The Cubs, having placed pitcher Ryan Dempster on the disabled list with a strained right quad on Saturday, will send right-hander Randy Wells to the mound to make his first start of the year.
Wells will be up against a Reds lineup that manager Dusty Baker admits is not the ideal scenario, with Brandon Phillips nursing a sore hamstring that has dropped him down to the fourth spot in the order with his speed limited these days.
The Reds have won two of three, while the Cubs snapped a six-game losing streak on Saturday with a 6-1 win.
As Phillips recovers from his injury (he played Saturday after sitting out on Friday), Baker has rookie Zack Cozart in the leadoff spot and the red-hot Drew Stubbs in the two-hole.
Stubbs had a six-game hitting streak snapped Saturday, but he has six hits in his past three games combined. He had his first two extra-base hits of the year this week (a homer Thursday and a double Friday), but it's still not the way Baker envisions his lineup.
"In a perfect world, Drew's my leadoff guy and Cozart the perfect second hitter," Baker said. "But until Drew gets some more success, then I might switch them. If everything was perfect ... I mean, it's hard to have your steal guy [Stubbs] batting in front of Joey [Votto]. But it's hard to stop a race horse from running, too. How do you put the reins on the rabbit? It's hard to do it. It'd be perfect if he could bat leadoff and Cozart's batting second."
Whatever the case may be, that Reds' lineup will stand in against Wells, who was 1-0 with a 9.42 ERA with Triple-A Iowa this year.
Wells, who is 4-1 with a 3.88 ERA in his career against the National League Central rivals, competed in Spring Training for a rotation spot but just narrowly missed out. The club also considered using him in long relief, but opted to send him to Triple-A to lead the rotation there instead. He has appeared in 82 games for the Cubs over the past three seasons, all starts.
"Nine-inning shutout perfect game would be nice," manager Dale Sveum joked, talking about what he'd like to see from Wells. "He's a veteran guy that knows how to pitch. Sinks the ball and has a good changeup."
Reds: Cueto on the mound
Cincinnati will counter from the hill with right-hander Johnny Cueto, who has enjoyed success during the young season (1-0, 1.89 ERA) despite flirting with danger in his last start, against the Cardinals. Cueto had runners in scoring position in each of the first four innings, but he allowed just one run as he slowed the game down and became more effective over his final three frames. The Reds' offense just didn't lend enough of a hand in the 2-1 loss.
"At this time right now, we're not getting a lot of help from the offense," Cueto said through an interpreter. "That's the way it is. It's going to come to a time that they'll start to hit."
Cueto is 4-6 with a 3.72 ERA in his career against the Cubs.
Cozart began the season 14-for-40 (.350) from the two-hole in the Reds' lineup before switching to the leadoff spot, where he is 4-for-17 in his last four games.
Cubs: Going streaking
Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has hit safely in each of his past nine games, batting .416 (15-for-36) in that stretch. It is already his eighth career hitting streak of at least eight games since he made his Major League debut on May 7, 2010.
Additionally, first baseman Bryan LaHair has a hit in eight of his last nine games.
With Dempster being placed on the DL before Saturday's game, the club called up outfielder Tony Campana from Triple-A. Campana was 1-for-2 off the bench on Saturday.
Sunday will mark the end of the Reds' 10-game, 11-day road trip through Washington, St. Louis and Chicago.
The Cubs are in the midst of a stretch of 13 out of 16 ballgames coming against NL Central opponents. They lost three out of four to the Brewers, two out of three to the Cardinals and have split two games against the Reds this weekend. Once the Reds leave, the Cardinals come to town for a three-game set.