Apparently leading all of baseball in ERA to start a season is not good enough for MLB to recognize as the kind of feat worthy of the pitcher-of-the-month award.
Cincinnati Reds‘ ace Johnny Cueto did just that with an impeccable 1.15 over his first six starts. Cueto’s award-worthy first month of the season included two complete games against the Pittsburgh Pirates (with one being a three-hit shutout) and 50 strikeouts over six starts.
No. Cueto was beat out by Miami Marlins‘ ace Jose Fernandez, an outstanding pitcher in his own right who did best Cueto in wins for the months (4) and Ks (55) but whose April included just two starts of eight innings and a four-inning dud in which he coughed up six earned runs.
The award farce is just another snub suffered by Cueto. This time around it came in the form of the Miami hype machine. The marketing appeal of Fernandez as the uber-hyped prototype in the Mike Trout or Bryce Harper mold just had too much mega-market glitter for the more deserving Cueto to overcome.
But Cueto is used to being snubbed. In 2012, NL All-Star manager Tony La Russa opted to exercise inexcusable bias in omitting Cueto from the team despite Cueto’s 10-5 record and 2.39 ERA in 120-plus innings at the 2012 break.
His own team snubbed him this offseason by opening up the bank vault for rotation mate Homer Bailey, who received a six-year, $105-million deal. Cueto will make $10 million this year with a $10 million team option for next year.
Regardless, Cueto is making up for the snubs and an injury-plagued 2013 season. After his first start in May, Cueto is now the only starter in the last five years to start the season with seven starts of at least seven innings while surrendering two earned runs or less.
Cueto may not win any awards and the snubbing may continue to go on, but when the time comes for Cueto to cash in on a free agent deal that should exceed Bailey’s, he will be laughing all the way to the bank.