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“It’s more of a muscle strain in the side that was very mild, but with his torque and the way he pitches and his twisting motion, we didn’t want to take the risk of injuring him,” Jocketty said.

The major setback comes at the end of a record-setting season for the Reds’ rotation. None of the five starters got hurt, a franchise first.

Leake had to be pushed back a day during a series against Cleveland in June, when a stomach virus went through the team. Otherwise, the rotation had impeccable health.

“A lot of it, I think, is just good fortune and good luck,” Price said.

Leake went 8-9 with a 4.58 ERA, making him the obvious choice to be left off the playoff roster. When Cueto got hurt Saturday, the Reds told Leake to start preparing to replace him if needed. He left the ballpark on Tuesday night knowing he might start Game 4.

“He knew there was a good chance,” Baker said. “He’s known for possibly a couple of days, not that he would be pitching but that he was preparing to pitch. He was studying the charts. He was looking at the game. He was in the video room.”

Leake faced the Giants once this season, throwing the first complete game of his career for a 5-1 victory at AT&T Park on June 19. He also homered off Matt Cain in that game.

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Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay