Baseball can be a cruel game. The numbers are the numbers, and they never lie. If you look at the boxscore from Saturday night's 11-5 Reds victory over the Royals, it will show you that Johnny Cueto pitched six innings, allowed five earned runs, and had four walks.
Under no circumstances is that ever good, or something that should be acceptable on a per game basis, but after completely unraveling in the second inning, which saw him allow five earned runs, Johnny Cueto composed himself, kept his team in the ballgame, and gave that bullpen some needed relief with those six innings of work.
Rightfully so, he was booed off the mound in that second inning, and booed for not running hard down the line in his at bat in bottom half of that inning. It started to look like the end of the road for the enigmatic Cueto. With Edinson Volquez rehabbing, and Aroldis Chapman not too far from making his Major League debut, someone in that rotation is going to lose his job.
For one night, Cueto fought like hell to make sure that it's not going to be him. His success after that inning came when he stopped trying to aim his pitches, and started relying more on his God-given abilities.
Cueto's physical gifts are up there when you assess the young pitchers in the game. However, for every young pitcher who combines great stuff with the right mental approach, there are many others who are solely hard throwers and nothing more.
Which guy will Cueto become? Will he become just another failed prospect with a cannon for an arm, or will he do more with his career? I hope his gutsy performance Saturday night is a sign of good things to come.
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