Johnny Cueto was the ace of the Cincinnati Reds pitching staff when the 2013 season started. That lasted about as long as it took him to get hurt again. Cueto has been a little bit injury prone in the last season and a part so it wasn’t a big shock for him to get injured. What was surprising for the Reds and everyone watching was that Cueto never really got healthy this year. Even when he finally was healthy coming off of the disabled list late in the season, he wasn’t right. The Reds then put him in the one game playoff.
I don’t really question Dusty Baker putting Cueto in that spot but I do wonder why he left him there without someone to back him up when things clearly went wrong early in the game. I don’t think Cueto was too rattled by the fans at PNC Park. He clearly heard them and of course now famously dropped the ball, but his mechanics weren’t right and he just looked uncomfortable. You would think there had to be someone else available to start that game or to come in for long relief.
That didn’t happen however and the Reds managed nothing in support of him. Basically when the lack of offense and the setting are added together, Cueto was in an impossible spot in that wildcard playoff game. For him, that isn’t the end. His job needs to be to put this entire season, not just that game, behind him. Cueto needs to work on something with his health in the offseason that will allow him to pitch without easily injuring himself, namely his oblique. Then he can really become the staff ace once again.