There’s little question that Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto deserves a spot on the 2014 NL All-Star team. Baseball media won’t likely tolerate another St. Louis Cardinals manager depriving Cueto of the All-Star status he’s earned with a magnificent season.
But Cueto has earned more than just a spot on the team — he should be the starter.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny may hope that his ace Adam Wainwright can bounce back from his injury to put up a couple more quality starts just to make the home-team bias less obvious if Cueto isn’t picked to start the game. Wainwright has put up the numbers to merit consideration to start the game, but Cueto’s year has been better in every category except for the one that Cueto can’t control — wins.
After Tim Hudson‘s ERA blew up Wednesday afternoon against the Chicago White Sox, the decision to name a starting pitcher with the best season thus far boils down to Cueto and Wainwright.
Cueto is currently ranked first in the NL in ERA, innings pitched, opponents batting average and WHIP. The only major category other than wins in which Cueto ranks second is strikeouts. Cueto’s last outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates was a struggle, but despite the command issues that he had, he did manage to produce a quality start in yielding just two earned runs over six innings.
The remaining starts for Cueto and Wainwright should rightfully determine who starts the All-Star game for the NL, but it’s hard to imagine that Cueto won’t have to be twice as good as Wainwright down the stretch to the All-Star game. Given the fact that Matheny and the Cardinals have earned the right to pick who they want by advancing to the World Series the year before, Cueto has to be considered a longshot to get the starting nod.
Add to that the Reds are the Cardinals’ primary division rival and that Cueto spiked two Cardinals players during a 2010 brawl, and hard feelings may not help Cueto’s All-Star cause either.