No Need for Royals Fans to Worry About Cueto

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When the Kansas City Royals traded well known prospects Brandon Finnegan and John Lamb to the Cincinnati Reds for Johnny Cueto, it was expected that Cueto would immediately fall into place and dominate. He had posted a 2.62 ERA this season in 19 games with the Reds after posting sub 3.00 ERA’s every year since 2010. He was the ace the Royals were looking for after Yordano Ventura stumbled in that role after being named opening day starter prior to the 2015 season.

On Wednsday night, Cueto had his second rough outing in a row with Kansas City, giving up 6 runs on 8 hits in 5 innings. This was following a 7 run, 13 hit disaster in Boston.

Against Baltimore, he was still able to strike batters out, collecting 8 strikeouts, but was unable to stay away from the long ball, allowing 3 two-run blasts.

So far with the Royals, Cueto has allowed run totals of 3, 2, 0, 1, 7 and 6. It has equated to an ERA of 3.95 as a Royal. His FIP during that stretch has been 3.59. He is averaging over 6 2/3 innings per start with the Royals and has an ERA+ of 103. The Royals are 2-4 in games Cueto has pitched so far.

So has he been an ace?

The problem with answering questions like this is how can we truly evaluate a pitcher based on SIX games? When breaking down stats, look for the long stretches and then the tiny sections of lows or highs usually end up being the false reading. Its the same stigma that Mike Moustakas must break out of to truly convince saber guys he has changed. Does half a season of good production wipe out years of very VERY sub-par production?

The situation is much the same with Cueto. The problem is Royals fans don’t have a track record to judge him against, at least not a track record that is OURS. What he did with the Reds is an unknown, except on paper, but it still matters.

Its ok to be disappointed, we all are. Fans are disappointed ANY time a player on their favorite team does not perform as they want them to, but it does not mean they are any less of a player. Johnny Cueto has had 2 bad games. It will probably happen again sometime.

It happens.

Who knows what the excuse is or if there even is one, but he has pitched his entire career (since 2008) with the Cincinnati Reds up until this point. He was very familiar with the batters he was pitching against and now has not only switched who he pitches against, but who he pitches too. Salvador Perez is an excellent, gold-glove winning catcher, but it still takes time to develop a rapport.

Its also possible the lack of any true pressure may have an effect (though that is doubtful) as the Royals don’t really have much to play for right now. Its obvious they want the number 1 seed in the American League, but are sitting 6 games up even in that department. They could lose 10 games in a row and STILL be a top contender for the #1 seed.

The bottom line is that even with a pair of disappointing outings, Cueto’s 3.95 ERA is still better than the season totals of Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura and Jeremy Guthrie. Even WITH the poor outings in a small sample size, he is still statistically at the top of the Royals inconsistent and frustrating rotation behind only Edinson Volquez who currently sports a 3.40 ERA on the season.

Cueto did have another 2 game stretch where he allowed 9 runs over 2 games (May 25th and 29th). Not as bad as the 12 he has allowed over his last 2, but still enough to show the sky is probably not falling. Yordano Ventura had a stretch where he had allowed 5 or more runs in 3 out of 4 games that ended just this month. From May 29th until July 1st last season, James Shields had an ERA of 5.61, plus another 4 un-earned runs.

Bad stretches happen.

If Johnny Cueto is still throwing up crooked numbers start after start come the end of September, then I may be worried but until then lets not get too upset over a couple of bad starts. Sports fans have short memories and a few solid outings will be all it takes for them to once again embrace Cueto in the role as the Ace he was originally acquired for.


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