Cincinnati Reds' Johnny Cueto Back in Cy Young Award Driver's Seat

Cincinnati Reds, Johnny Cueto, NL Cy Young Award
Getty Images

Cincinnati RedsJohny Cueto reasserted his claim as the NL Cy Young Award frontrunner with a dominant outing over the Washington Nationals on Sunday.

The 28-year-old now leads the NL in innings pitched (155.2), opponents batting average (.184) and WHIP (0.93). Cueto ranks second in strikeouts (163) and ERA among qualifying starters (2.08). His 11 wins are just one off the pace of the league-leading 12.

With Cueto pitching, the offensively-challenged Reds have a much better chance to win than with any other pitcher and will continue to reap the reward of having Cueto as their undisputed ace at a bargain price of $10 million per year until the end of the 2015 season—when the Reds can net a first-round pick for a qualifying offer to Cueto and Cueto can move on to the greener pastures of mega-market baseball.

Until that departure by Cueto arrives, the Reds will continue to benefit from the best he has to offer. Since 2011, Cueto has the second lowest ERA (2.47) of all pitchers who have thrown at least 500 innings. He became the first pitcher in baseball history to make nine consecutive starts to start a season with at least seven innings or more pitched and two runs or less surrendered.

If all that doesn’t spell C-Y Y-O-U-N-G, then Cueto should demand a recount, provided that Cueto can keep pace with his nearest competition in Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright.

The Reds need to have Cueto at his prime over the rest of this year and next if they hope to have any chance of advancing deep into the postseason. Between Cueto and teammate Mat Latos, the Reds have the kind of one-two punch at the top of the rotation that can translate into World Series conversation if a weak Reds’ offense can push across just enough runs to get the team in the hunt.

Robb Hoff is a Cincinnati Reds writer for Follow him on Twitter @NFLNostradamus, like him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.