Cincinnati Reds: Has Johnny Cueto Lost His Grip on the NL Cy Young?

Joshua Ramsey@jramcincyAnalyst ISeptember 10, 2012

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 9:  Pitcher Johnny Cueto #47 of the Cincinnati Reds and catcher Ryan Hanigan #29 of the Cincinnati Reds hide their mouths as they conference at the mound during the game against the Houston Astros at Great American Ball Park on September 9, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Reds' Johnny Cueto was a front-runner for the NL Cy Young Award just 10 days ago, but two subpar starts against lower-level teams have essentially eliminated Cueto from Cy Young contention.

The Cy Young Award is given to a true ace; to that pitcher that strikes fear in opponents. A Cy Young pitcher is a stopper. They don't lose to bad teams when their team is battling for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Cueto has looked poor in September outings against the Philadelphia Phillies (four earned runs, eight hits and a loss) and the Houston Astros (four earned runs, nine hits, four innings).

A team that has won only 11 games during the second half of the season (two this past weekend against Cincy) made Cueto look silly.

That doesn't happen to Cy Young Award winners.

Johnny Cueto has pitched excellent all season, but is he really the stopper that he has been made out to be? Is he the ace that can carry his team like Jose Rijo did for the Reds during their sweep of the mighty Oakland A's in the 1990 World Series?

Jose Rijo was a stopper in the true sense. He lived to pitch in the big game.

When I see Cy Young contenders R.A. Dickey and Gio Gonzalez pitch, I see pitchers that dominate.

Cueto doesn't. 

Dickey has thrown three shutouts. Gonzalez has thrown one. Cueto has posted a goose egg.

If I had to choose one pitcher to be my ace throughout the playoffs, Cueto would be last on a list that included him, Dickey and Gonzalez.

Johnny Cueto has the ability to be the 2012 version of Jose Rijo, but he needs to get his act together. He and the Reds should be embarrassed by his two September outings.

Cueto, who was once in contention to win the Reds' first-ever Cy Young Award, has lost his grip on any such opportunities.

Let's just hope he doesn't lose his grip on the postseason as well. If the Reds intend to make a run in the playoffs, Cueto needs to pitch like a Cy Young and not like a wannabe.