The Cy Young Award candidate has dropped two straight games for just the second time this season and the first time in more than two months while he searches for his first win in September.
Cueto (17-8, 2.71 ERA) has given up four runs in each of his past two outings and matched his shortest outing of the season on Sunday, lasting just four innings. He has also given up three home runs in those two outings after surrendering just nine his first 27 starts combined.
"It happens. He's just getting the ball up," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "He's given up some home runs, which isn't him. This park will probably help that unless Giancarlo [Stanton] hits one. Just quality control, because Johnny usually doesn't give up walks, he doesn't give up homers, he doesn't give up consecutive hits. He'll be fine."
The Reds are hoping he'll be fine, and that they'll see more glimpses of the man whose won them 17 games and boasts one of the best ERAs in the Majors.
Cueto has already chalked up more wins than he ever has in his career and is just two starts away from matching his career high.
"Sometimes, you just have a couple of bad outings," Baker said. "That's what it looks like to me. Hopefully, he's not worried about things other than pitching and winning. He's never been this close to 20 [wins] and the Cy Young. There are probably things running through his head. We'll have to have a little sit-down conference with him, and get him back to being Johnny Cueto pitching."
He'll face off against another pitcher on the verge of reaching a milestone as Mark Buehrle will get the chance to eclipse the 200-inninng mark for the 12th straight year.
The Marlins have recently tweaked the rotation after moving to a six-man rotation, and Buehrle (12-12, 3.73 ERA) is now slated to start four more times this year, including the season finale.
"I don't know why he wants those 200 innings," said Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, who managed Buehrle in Chicago. "... He's begging to pitch. I have a lot of respect for that. And I will do everything in my power, and I hope he gets those innings that he wants."
Buehrle has pitched seven innings in each of his past two starts, and four of his previous five outings, posting a 3-1 record in that span.
Reds: Chapman encouraged after long toss
• After two concerning outings from All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman, the Reds received some good news regarding their gun-slinging southpaw on Friday.
Chapman, who has been shut down for a few days with fatigue in his left arm, threw 40 fastballs of long toss from 40-50 feet and said he feels "a lot better" than he did earlier this week.
He is 17 2/3 innings past his career high in innings pitched.
"There's a long season, and sometimes you forget about continuing to do some exercises and you get fatigued," said Chapman, who is 5-5 with a 1.60 ERA, 119 strikeouts and 35 saves. "I wish this would've happened earlier in the season, because this is the time of the season when we're on the final [stretch] of the season and I would like to be better."
• The Reds are continuing to monitor the progress of rookie shortstop Zack Cozart as he recovers from his left oblique strain.
Cozart hasn't played since Sept. 3, but hit off a tee, took grounders, ran and stretched in recent days.
"Zack's doing pretty well," Baker said. "That oblique, he has to be really careful with that. We're taking our time, and had a long talk with him [Wednesday] night. We're hoping [he returns] soon, we just don't know when."
Marlins: Murphy could be done for season
• While no final decision has been made yet, Marlins third baseman Donnie Murphy could miss the remainder of the season after suffering a concussion in Wednesday's game at Philadelphia.
Murphy was accidentally struck in the head by Chase Utley on a slide play at third base, and left the game in the sixth inning.
"He might be, could be out for the season," Guillen said. "That's up in the air. They are going to have to wait a week to do another evaluation and see how he feels. After that, he has to take more time off. I don't expect him to be back."
Murphy is batting .205 in 50 games and has been with the Marlins since 2010.
• Carlos Lee left Friday's game against the Reds entering the sixth inning after being shaken up while sliding into second.
Lee was caught in a rundown between first and second and attempted a headfirst slide into second. He collided into Reds shortstop Wilson Valdez, who applied the tag.
Lee remained on the ground for a few minutes and was tended to by Guillen and assistant trainer Mike Kozak.
The Marlins transferred Emilio Bonifacio to the 60-day disabled list and selected the contract of infielder Gil Velazquez.
Velazquez has appeared in two games with the Marlins this season, going 1-for-8.