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Johnny Cueto is Baseball’s Best in 2014

The National League Central division Cincinnati Reds are sitting in third place 7 games behind the surprising Milwaukee Brewers.

Nonetheless, the Reds likely have baseball’s best pitcher this season in Johnny Cueto. The right-hander is not the prototype for a major league hurler at 5-foot-11 and around 220 pounds.

Being under 6-foot and a right-hander usually gets you moved to the bullpen. A number of years ago the Los Angeles Dodgers put a right-hander who was under 6-foot into the bullpen.

He dominated from the bullpen as a reliever, but was traded as the Dodgers figured he would never last being a starter. His name was Pedro Martinez.

Cueto, who is from the Dominican Republic, has a windup similar to Luis Tiant, the former star pitcher with the Boston Red Sox from Cuba.

Cincinnati’s Cueto has had success in the past. He has won 19 games in a season and finished as high as fourth in balloting for the Cy Young award. Cincinnati has never had its own Cy Young Award winner, but that drought might finally end this season.

However, this season Cueto’s game has gone to another level. Thursday night he threw a three-hit shutout gem against the San Diego Padres.

Cueto is now 4-2 on the season with an incredible 1.25 ERA in nine starts.

With a bit of run support from his teammates in his nine starts, Cueto easily could be 9-0. In each of his 9 starts, the Dominican has pitched at least seven innings. Cueto has not given up over two runs in any of his starts.

The two losses he has suffered this season were 1-0 and 2-1. In another game, he had a no-decision after pitching eight innings and not allowing a run.

Cueto is Major League Baseball’s best or hottest pitcher at this time and he will let you. Cueto said numbers do the talking and his numbers are talking for him.

Currently Cueto is nearly unhittable. Opponents at the plate are hitting a paltry .135 versus the right-hander with an on-base percentage of just .194.

Cueto is the first starting pitcher to last at least seven innings while allowing only two runs or less in all of his first nine outings since 1909 when Harry Krause did it for the Philadelphia Athletics.

The right-hander has thrown three complete games, which are more than every other club in the major leagues.

Just three pitchers in the history of Major League Baseball have recorded an ERA of less than 1.50 and a batting average of opponents of less than .150 through their first nine starts. Cueto is one of the three, while in 1968 Luis Tiant and in 1972 Don Sutton accomplished the feat.

In 9 starts, Cueto has allowed just 10 runs. Cueto has given up 7 home runs for 8 of the 10 runs (one was a two-run homer). He has given up 32 hits in all and walked 18. Just two of the 43 base runners he has allowed have scored.

Last season Cueto pitched 212 innings and recorded 170 strikeouts for a 19.1% rate. This season he has pitched 72 innings and already has 76 strikeouts for a 28.8% strikeout rate.

Chances are that Cueto will not complete his season with an ERA of 1.25, but he is currently on a run that is quite historic.

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