On July 26, the Kansas City Royals made a huge splash when they traded for Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto. The Royals traded away one of their bullpen stars from a year ago, Brandon Finnegan, along with prospects John Lamb and Cody Reed.
Cueto was a lifelong National League starting pitcher and there was some concern about how he would transition to the American League. He has erased all doubts through three games with Kansas City. He faced the offensive juggernaut that is the Toronto Blue Jays in his first start, followed by two starts against the Detroit Tigers.
In his start against the Blue Jays, Johnny Beisbol went six while giving up three runs and striking out seven. The Royals took the loss, but it was a great showing in his first game out. The second start was just as impressive as the first ( 7 IP, 2 ER, 2 K) but again the Royals took a 2-1 loss. Cueto took things into his own hands this past Monday in his first start for the Royals at Kaufmann Stadium. He didn’t disappoint the home crowd with a complete game shutout of the Tigers, allowing only four hits while striking out eight.
Cueto is a free agent at the end of the year and will be 30 years old at the start of next season. After dominating in the National League for the last four and a half seasons and what he has shown so far in the AL, the 5’11” right-hander from the Dominican Republic is set to have a big payday this offseason. The last time his ERA was over 3.00 after a season was 2010 (2.31 in ’11, 2.78 in ’12, 2.82 in ’13, 2.25 in ’14).
Cueto holds a 2.05 ERA through 22 IP with the Royals as he is set to face the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Saturday night.
The Royals took a gamble on a three-month rental in Johnny Cueto. If he helps them make another deep postseason run or possibly win a World Series, it will be seen as another great move by Royals general manager Dayton Moore. So far so good.