As it stands right now, Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto will probably finish second in the NL Cy Young Award to Clayton Kershaw. After all, Kershaw is churning out another ridiculous ERA (1.71) and already has a no-hitter this year to add to his credentials.
But Cueto is not quite out of the running yet.
The 28-year-old, right-hander continues to be just dominating enough to keep the Cy Young Award contest interesting. Plus, he currently has six more starts that Kershaw, which should factor in his favor when all the votes are tallied.
Cueto entered his start Tuesday night second to Kershaw in ERA (2.05), WHIP (0.82 to 0.92) and wins (13 to 12). Cueto started the night ahead of Kershaw in strikeouts (166 to 150) and second overall in the NL in Ks. Cueto also boasted the lowest opponents batting average among starters (.183) and also was tops in innings pitched (162.2).
And after Cueto turned in his fourth complete game of the season on Tuesday night, he improved in every category.
Cueto may not have a no-hitter like Kershaw this year, but he does have perhaps an even bigger piece of history on his side. Cueto set the major league record for most starts at the beginning of a season (nine) with at least seven innings pitched and two or fewer runs surrendered.
That historic start probably won’t be enough to unseat Kershaw if the latter continues to produce a Bugs Bunny ERA, but if Cueto can keep pace and not miss any starts, Cueto will make the voting interesting.
Of course, Cueto is used to finishing second behind Kershaw. Of all major league starters who have pitched at least 500 innings since 2011, Cueto trails only Kershaw in ERA (2.46 to 2.13).
Cueto definitely won’t pass Kershaw on that front, but he could steal a Cy Young away from Kershaw if the latter stumbles at all down the stretch.