The Reds have never had a pitcher win the Cy Young Award, but this looks like it could be the year that it finally happens.
Two years ago, Cueto went 19-9 with a 2.78 ERA and put his name on the map. He finished fourth in the National League Cy Young voting that year, but he will receive more attention now that he has proven himself as an ace.
Overall, he is 4-2 in 2014 and has posted a 1.25 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP through his first nine starts.
Cueto leads the majors in just about every statistical category, but his numbers are historically good through nine starts. The right-hander has gone at least seven innings and allowed fewer than two runs in every start this season. No pitcher has done that through the first nine starts in the last 100 years, via MLB Stat of the Day.
Cincinnati's ace has gone at least eight innings in each of his past six starts, and during that stretch, he has allowed more than three hits in a game only once.
Pitching in Great American Ball Park is a blessing and a curse. Should Cueto continue to put up incredible numbers, the ballpark factor will be in his favor. However, there's a chance his numbers could be hurt by pitching in the hitter-friendly park.
Through the early part of the season, Cueto's isn't letting Great American Ball Park hurt him. He has posted a 1.31 ERA and a 0.646 WHIP in 48 innings (six starts) at home this season. According to statistician Joel Luckhaupt, Cueto's 1.99 ERA at Great American Ball Park since 2011 is the second-lowest mark any MLB pitcher has posted at home during that span.
Although a pitcher's record doesn't tell the whole story, Cueto's chances could be hurt by lack of run support. Entering his eighth start of the season, via ESPN.com, he ranks in the bottom 10 among all starters in the majors in run support at 2.44 runs per start. Meanwhile, St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright has received more than five runs per start. Wins and losses aren't everything, but they can slightly influence a voter.
Not only do his numbers look impressive, but Cueto's case will be helped by the fact that some great pitchers have unfortunately missed time with injuries.
Clayton Kershaw—who has won two of the past three Cy Young Awards—missed time earlier this season with a shoulder injury. The Miami Marlins recently tweeted that phenom Jose Fernandez has a torn ligament in his elbow and will undergo Tommy John surgery.
Although some of the best arms have been limited this season, there will still be competition for the award. Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija is off to a fantastic start, but there's no telling where he will finish the season. Wainwright will always be in the conversation, and a number of Atlanta Braves pitchers could make a run at the award.
At the end of the season, Cueto will have as good a resume as any pitcher in the league—provided he stays healthy.