Sideline Report: Was Johnny Cueto worth it?


Braden Shaw, JagWire editor-in-chief

For the Royals to take the next step toward winning a World Series, they were going to have to address their starting pitching. They lost their ace James Shields in free agency, and their starters were notorious for not going deep into games.

General manager Dayton Moore must have realized this problem and decided about a week before the MLB trade deadline to make a move that would change the landscape of the team. On July 26, the Royals traded pitchers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed to the Cincinnati Reds for pitcher Johnny Cueto and cash considerations. It was a bold move to give up such promising prospects for one player to be a game changer.

This initially seemed to be a great move to put the Royals in prime position for a playoff push come October. Cueto was a hot pitcher on the market and having a solid year with the Reds, with a 7-6 record and 2.62 ERA. It was a trade that made fans rejoice and make another run at the World Series a reality. He even had some great starts to begin his Royals career (emphasis on begin).

The best start for Cueto in a Royals uniform would have to be his home debut against the Detroit Tigers, a game I actually attended in person. His pitching was terrific, and he didn’t give hitters much of a chance throughout the game. He finished with a complete game shutout, striking out eight and allowing only four hits. It was amazing, and gave me even more hope for the future. Boy, was I wrong.

I’m just going to put it out there: Cueto has looked awful in his last five starts. In those last five starts alone, Cueto has given up 28 runs and eight home runs. He also has given up 48 hits, which basically means he has been a trainwreck on the mound as of late.

I’ve come to think that it’s got to do something with his mechanics. His fastball velocity is not reaching speeds where it should be, and his delivery is just off. I’m not sure what turned him into this below-average pitcher, but it’s frightening for it to be happening almost halfway through September. What’s to say he doesn’t get out of this funk he’s in and loses the Royals a crucial game come the playoffs? Something’s got to change and soon.

I believe that, initially, getting Johnny Cueto was a great move. But, right now, it’s nothing short of a nightmare. The Royals dropping eight of their last 10 was not entirely his fault, but he sure didn’t help their cause. He has changed fans’ viewpoints of when he starts from excitement to cringing.

If Cueto continues down this path, the Royals cannot start him in the playoffs. He’s too much of a liability now, and Cueto needs to put up or shut up. Cueto and the Royals better turn this ship around, or they’ll be watching the World Series from their couches.

Junior Braden Shaw is a passionate sports fan who follows sports at both the college and professional level. He loves to defend his unpopular opinions on the University of Nebraska, Sporting KC, Chiefs and Royals and is always up for a debate over any game or team.

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