2013 Fantasy Baseball: Johnny Cueto Returning, Tony Cingrani Demoted

By Rich Arleo
Johnny Cueto - Cincy Reds
Rick Scuteri – USA Today Sports

The Cincinnati Reds are shuffling their rotation with the return of Johnny Cueto, making a few decisions that have a major fantasy baseball impact.

With Cueto ready to start Monday against the New York Mets after missing over a month with an oblique injury, the Reds had a decision to make between Tony Cingrani and Mike Leake. There was much talk whether the young fireballer should stick or if they should continue to go with the more proven Leake, and the team made it’s decision Saturday by optioning Cingrani to Triple-A.

The 23-year-old Cingrani was a fine replacement for Cueto’s fantasy owners during his absence. He had a very good 41:9 K:BB over six starts with a 3.27 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. He came out firing in his first few starts, but he only lasted a total of nine innings in his last two while Leake stabilized himself after struggling in his first two starts of the year.

The team evidently prefers the (slightly more) experienced Leake, who can give them more length at the moment than Cingrani.  Leake is now in his fourth year with the team, but his solid performance in May saved him from a possible demotion.

Cingrani will return to Triple-A Louisville where he dominated earlier this season with 26 strikeouts in 14.1 shutout innings. He showed that he is able to handle Major League hitters but for now is the odd man out. If he dominates Triple-A again he’ll eventually force his way back into the rotation and he is clearly the first option should someone get hurt, so fantasy owners should continue to monitor him in the minors.

Leake has been OK this season but has managed just three quality starts out of eight and has a disappointing 1.49 WHIP that he’ll have to improve on to find success. For now he should only be owned in NL-only and deep standard leagues.

Cueto returns Monday against a weak Mets lineup and should immediately be reinserted into your starting lineups. When healthy, he is one of the better strikeout artists in the league and is a great contributor in all key fantasy stats.

Rich Arleo is a fantasy sports expert with Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Rarleo, ‘Like’ him on Facebook and add him to your networks on Google.

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