Heading into Sunday’s start against the Atlanta Braves, Johnny Cueto of the Cincinnati Reds had the second lowest ERA (2.51) among all starting pitchers who have thrown at least 400 innings since 2011.
Cueto lived up to his billing against the Braves, but unfortunately for him, the Reds’ hitters failed to notch a single run for their ace as Cueto’s counterpart — Julio Teheran — blanked the Reds over eight innings. Neither Cueto nor Teheran factored into Sunday’s decision.
Cueto would have been on track to throw a third straight complete game this year had it not been for a botched replay call to end the first inning and costing Cueto enough extra pitches to keep him from throwing in the ninth.
Despite not finishing with a complete game, Cueto did shut out the Braves over eight innings and struck out 11 batters in the process. The sharp outing lowered Cueto’s season ERA to 0.96, which slots him second in baseball behind the pitcher Cueto eventually replaced as the long-term ace of the Reds’ staff, Aaron Harang.
The 11 strikeouts also pushed Cueto up the strikeout list among starters in 2014. Cueto is now second in K’s (50) behind Stephen Strasburg of the Washngton Nationals.
The performance by Cueto also matched a Reds’ team record. Cueto tied Jim Merritt for the franchise record of most consecutive starts to begin the season with seven or more innings pitched and two earned runs or less surrendered.
The outing also adds an exclamation point that Cueto is back to his form of 2012, in which he finished the year 19-9 with a 2.78 ERA in 217 innings pitched.