Johnny Cueto has been bad for the Royals for the majority of his starts with them, and it’s not a huge secret. In fact, Cueto has been such a disaster, some are even calling for Jeremy Guthrie to take his spot in the rotation right now. To any baseball-savvy individual, that probably sounds like a bad idea. That’s because it is. Yes, Johnny Cueto has not lived up to the hype that surrounded him at the 2015 trade deadline. Yes, it’s been a rough few months for Johnny Cueto. Yes, as of right now, it would be foolish for Ned Yost to have him pitch game one of anything. Right now, the Royals have to get to a game one in order for him to pitch in it, and the way they’re going, they might not.
It’s easy to place blame on one player when things are spiraling downhill. For Kansas City, it appears that Johnny Cueto is the fall guy. It would take a collapse of epic proportions on the part of the Royals to not make the postseason in any form or fashion. Just for comfort, because you’re probably thinking, “What’s she talking about? Royals not making the playoffs this year. Huh?”
Let’s say it together: THE KANSAS CITY ROYALS WILL PROBABLY NOT BLOW A NINE GAME DIVISION LEAD IN 19 GAMES.
In three September starts, the “ace” of the Royals starting staff has a 9.39 ERA in just 15.1 innings pitched. Cueto’s BABIP (Batting Average of Balls In Play) in the same stretch is .397, which takes “hit ‘em where they ain’t” to a whole new level for the opposition. September has been notoriously worse for Johnny Cueto over the course of his career, with his most successful final month being in 2014 at a 2.21 ERA, but in 2011 and 2012, his ERA was over 4.00. Even so, Cueto has never struggled this much, and the answers for “why” seem to have a very wide margin.
“Maybe he’s homesick.”
“Maybe he’s hurt.”
“Maybe he’s just not mentally with it.”
“Maybe there’s too much pressure.”
“Maybe he’s just adjusting to the American League.”
There seems to be a whole lot of “maybe” this or “maybe” that surrounding Johnny Cueto. It’s unprecedented for a pitcher of his caliber to go from Cy Young contention to a guy who may not even start game three in the ALDS, without any rhyme or reason. Nobody has any answers either. And no: Blaming Dayton Moore and calling for his job is not the answer. Nobody could’ve predicted the downfall of Johnny Cueto, and nobody can really predict what he’ll do next. Though most people would like to think that he’ll turn it around, it is a very real possibility that he may not.
Overall, the Royals have lost nine of their last eleven games, and it just seems like they can’t do anything right. In the last four games, they’ve left 27 guys on base. Royals’ starters, not just Cueto, have allowed seventeen earned runs in the same timeframe, and the defense has errored in three of the last four games. Johnny Cueto has been a large part of the Royals scuffle in September, but he’s certainly is not all of it.