CINCINNATI -- What was suspected is now a fact -- Johnny Cueto is already finished for the season.

"I'm not throwing. I think I'm done," Cueto said. "I talked to the doctor and said I wanted to throw. He said, 'No.' OK, I won't. I feel good. No pain, no nothing. I'm great."

Cueto exited his last start, on Sept. 14 vs. the Cubs, after 3 2/3 innings because of a strained right lat muscle under his arm.

In 24 starts during 2011, Cueto is 9-5 with a 2.31 ERA, 47 walks, 104 strikeouts and only eight home runs. He has 156 innings pitched, which means he will not qualify for the National League ERA title.

Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw is just ahead with a 2.30 ERA. Cueto missed the first five weeks of the season because of irritation in his right biceps and triceps muscles, which obviously cost him some innings.

But as other members of the rotation faltered, the 25-year-old Cueto showed he was immediately ready to step up. He pitched like a No. 1 starter and made another big step forward in his progress.

"I was probably most proud of him and our training and fitness staff on how we really needed but chose to wait until he was right to come back," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He came back big time ready, which shows the kind of training regimen he was doing, more or less on his own. Now Johnny Cueto is a runner, which was what I talked to him about all the guys in my past. And the importance of hard work."

Cueto is frequently running on stadium steps and outfield grass, something he began in 2010 when he was 12-7 with a 3.64 ERA. Eligible for arbitration after that season, he signed a four-year, $27 million contract.

"The organization took some chance in signing him to a multi-year contract," Baker said. "You always take a chance. He proved his worth. He earned his money. He's going to get better and better.

"Hopefully next year he can be a 200 innings guy. It's a good feeling when you have Johnny Cueto every fifth day. The team feels confident. I can manage a little differently the day before knowing he's going to go deep in games and I probably won't use my bullpen. That's huge."

Cueto held out the possibility he would pitch in winter ball over the off-season in the Dominican Republic.

"Maybe. I would maybe throw 20-25 innings," Cueto said.

Willis, Wood possible starters for weekend

CINCINNATI -- The Reds still have "TBA" listed for their starting pitchers on Saturday and Sunday at Pittsburgh. One of those assignments could go to Dontrelle Willis, who was scratched on Sunday and again on Monday because of back spasms.

Travis Wood filled in for Willis on Monday with five scoreless innings against the Astros and could be in the mix also. The two could also work in a tandem start.

"He says he feels better today," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Willis. "We're going to keep everybody else on and it'll probably be Dontrelle and Wood or Wood and Dontrelle. It depends on how [Willis] feels and if he can get a bullpen or something in between."

Chapman may pitch winter ball as tune-up

CINCINNATI -- The Reds, who are considering making Aroldis Chapman a rotation candidate for 2012, are contemplating having the left-hander pitch winter ball in the off-season.

"We're discussing the possibility of Chapman playing some place to get him extended out to possibly start," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "There are a lot of things in question now."

Chapman was signed to a six-year, $30 million contract in January 2010 with designs on being a starter. In 51 relief appearances this season entering Tuesday, he is 4-1 with a 3.91 ERA with three of his 18 inherited runners scoring.

Worth noting

In each of the previous three games before Tuesday, the Reds recorded no more than two runs or four hits. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the club's longest such streak since a five-game stretch in August 1993.