And you’re just plain wrong if you don’t know it.

Last night, Cueto was not good.  After a remarkable display of pitching to get out of runners on first and third with no one out in the second, Johnny gave up three two-run homers on his way to a second bad outing in a row.  Two bad starts in a row?  You’re right, he’s a bum.

Let’s ignore, as Twitter strikingly did last night, the four starts before that.  You know, a complete game shutout, a one run over eight innings performance before that, two runs over seven the start before that and three runs over six innings in his first Royal start.  That first start, by the way, coming against the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto. Not impressed by six innings and three runs?  Do note that the Blue Jays AVERAGE 5.5 runs per game and are 17 games over .500 at home.  Since acquiring Troy Tulowitzki, the Blue Jays have scored less than three runs in a game THREE times with only one of those occurring at home.  Buy yeah, as one tweet went last night:  Cueto’s a bum, bad in 3 of 5 starts.  Weird, looks like six starts to me, with four of them being good, but math is hard.

Now, I fully understand Twitter is built for the instant, knee-jerk reaction and also that anyone talking baseball on Facebook is likely to be firmly over on the very casual side of baseball fandom. I also know the need to be a contrarian and so, like the Cueto trade, when something occurs that most people like, there is the group that wants to be different.  They were out last night, too.  The ‘I was worried about this with Cueto’ or ‘I didn’t see why everyone is so excited about this trade’ group.  Yes, you are all so insightful.

Listen, if you want to debate that three months of Cueto is not enough to trade Finnegan, Lamb and Reed, I will acknowledge that opinion.  I personally don’t think it was, but there is an argument to be made.  You can also express concern that maybe Cueto would not stay healthy for half a season and have some standing.  Johnny did, after all, miss portions of both the 2011 and 2013 seasons.   If your reason is because you don’t think Johnny Cueto is not that good, then you are just not paying attention.

Since 2010, Johnny Cueto:

  • ranks 16th among all pitchers in total fWAR
  • ranks 4th in ERA
  • despite missing parts of two seasons with injury, he is still in the top 25 in innings pitched
  • ranks 6th in batting average against
  • led the league in innings pitched and strikeouts in 2014
  • pitched seven innings or more in 24 of his 2014 starts
  • pitched seven innings or more in 16 of his 25 starts this season and six innings plus in six others

Now, Cueto’s FIP and SIERA numbers for 2010 through 2015 rank in the twenties for all starting pitchers.  If you want to make an argument that Cueto is not an ‘ace’, whatever that really means, you have some standing.  He isn’t Clayton Kershaw, but do be aware as you dance the ‘he’s not an ace’ line of the following:

  • Kershaw has started eight post-season games in his career and allowed five runs or more three times and given up five runs in a start twice in 2015
  • Zack Greinke, between winning the Cy Young in Kansas City and going to the Dodgers, posted an ERA of 3.48 or above in three straight seasons.  He also has given up five runs or more in start twice this year
  • Felix Hernandez has allowed five runs or more in four starts in 2015 and did so three time in 2014
  • Dallas Keuchel?  Two starts allowing five runs, three more allowing four.
  • Chris Sale has allowed five runs or more five times this season

After the second inning escape last night, I tweeted ‘Johnny Cueto just gave us a lesson in what it means to be an ace’.  Like I said, Twitter is made for the instant reaction and, if pressed and if you demand some adherence to the nebulous ace, one, two, three, five rating system of starting pitchers, I might lean to saying that Cueto is not really an ace.  He is certainly a ‘number one’ and at the very high end of whatever scale you might use to designate who a ‘number one’ is.  An ace? I don’t know, man, define ace.  However you define it, be careful or you will end up describing no one.  Every ace has his warts.  Every ace and every number one has a bad start or two….and sometimes they come back to back.

Now, if you want to say Cueto is a ‘bum’ and ‘not that good’ and ‘has not been very impressive with the Royals’, then I do have to ask very sincerely, ‘What the hell color is the sky in your freakish, odd little world?’