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Cincinnati Reds: Cueto Mania!

Brandon HeikoopSenior Analyst IApril 3, 2008

After an outstanding spring for the Reds, Johnny Cueto, one of the league's most hyped pitchers, is continuing where he left off. He absolutely owned the Diamondbacks in Cincinnati this afternoon.

I’m watching the game on MLB.com’s Gameday, which, for the type of analysis I am currently doing, is probably the best way. 

Cueto just retired the side in order in the seventh inning. It was the first inning he did not register a strikeout. As is, he has gone seven innings with 10 strikeouts, no walks, one hit and one run. 

The single run and hit obviously came in the same play, which was a 1 and 2 fastball inside on Justin Upton. That was the sixth fastball Cueto threw to Upton, three of which Justin swung through and two of which he watched for balls. I’m not sure if this was the first ever matchup between the two as they did play in the double A Southern League as well as Midwestern A ball.

However, I stayed away from him on my draft sheets. In a keeper league, I penciled him in thinking I could steal him late and stash him on my bench hoping for a big April in the minors to which I could move him for a more valuable, consistent veteran.

Unfortunately, Yahoo decided not to add him to their player database and thus the sweat was off my back. 

As I mentioned, I was figuring to stay away from Cueto in drafts, hoping in my keeper league to take advantage of the hype and move him. The reason I was staying away from him was simple: He was about to begin his career in one of the most pitcher friendly ballparks in the majors.

Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati has ranked third, first, and seventh in the majors since 2005 in terms of runs scored and third, third, and second in home runs. Essentially there are few places where I wouldn’t prefer the kid to start his career.

Further, consider the groundball percentages of Cueto in his last five minor league stops: 54 percent, 39 percent, 47 percent, 36 percent, and 34 percent. Those figures average out to about 42 percent; I suppose if they were weighted the figure would climb closer to 45 percent.

That isn’t climbing toward Chris Young percentages, but it isn’t great considering the ballpark he plays in.

However, all worry has been dispelled. Cueto’s stuff is among the best in baseball. If he can keep his walks under control and continues to mix up his pitches, there is no reason he won’t drastically out-perform his projections. 

Projections?

Only PECOTA helps out there with the following line: 130 Innings Pitched, 22 starts, 4.83 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 138 Hits, 46 Walks, 21 Home Runs Allowed, 105 Strikeouts, 7 Wins. 

Obviously PECOTA feels his fly ball tendencies at GAB will not jive, but after that dominating debut, I’m willing to take a chance on him in every league, using up my waiver and dropping a bench player.

Where can I comment?

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