Understanding Cueto's Success

Johnny Cueto seems to have taken another positive step forward in his development since he has come back off the DL.

In 7 starts this season, Cueto has a record of 3-2, but he sports an excellent 1.93 ERA. Below are his stats from the last four seasons for the Reds.

2008 22 9 14 4.81 31 174.0 178 93 29 68 158 1.414
2009 23 11 11 4.41 30 171.1 172 84 24 61 132 1.360
2010 24 12 7 3.64 31 185.2 181 75 19 56 138 1.276
2011 25 3 2 1.93 7 46.2 34 10 3 14 31 1.029
4 Seasons 35 34 4.08 99 577.2 565 262 75 199 459 1.323
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2011.

Last season, Cueto won 12 games and saw his ERA fall nearly 80 points. If he continues on the pace that he is currently on, his ERA may fall another 80 points in 2011.

Alex Apple

(Image: dailyphiladelphian.com)

Let’s take a look at 3 stats that are indicative of Cueto’s success so far in 2011. In all three areas, Cueto has shown significant improvement from three areas from 2009 to 2010.

The first of those stats is WHIP. Cueto’s whip has dropped from 1.28 to 1.03 in 2011 which means that Cueto has cut off a whole base runner every four innings. Starting pitchers that have WHIPs around 1 are usually All-Stars and Cueto’s ERA reflects the improvement on walks and hits allowed per inning pitched.

The second stat is his HR/9 rate. Cueto is giving up just .58 HR/9 this season. At Great American Small Park, Reds pitchers have to keep the ball in the ball park and Cueto has done just that. In 19,2 IP at GABP this year, Cueto has given up just 2 HR, and he has allowed just 1 HR on the road. 2 of those HR were against right handed batters and the other was against a lefty.

Finally, the other stat is BABIP (batting average on balls in play). Opposing hitters have a BABIP of just .230 against Cueto this season. Last season hitters had a BABIP .290 against Cueto. While some of the low BABIP can be attributed to good Reds defense and bad luck, the statistic is more indicative of the fact that hitters are not squaring up Cueto’s pitches as well as they have in the past. Cueto’s best pitch this season has been his fastball which has saved 9.4 runs above average this season. That means that compared to the average major league fastball, Cueto has given up 9.4 runs less so far in his starts than a normal fastball would have wielded.

Through 7 innings tonight, Cueto has yielded nary a run again. Reds starting pitching been nothing short of spectacular recently which is an encouraging sign for Reds fans who are waiting for their team to finally break out.

You can follow Alex Apple on Twitter <a href=”http://twitter.com/#!/AlexAppleDFW”>@AlexAppleDFW</a> and Blog Red Machine on Twitter @blogredmachine

Tags: BABIP Cincinnati Reds Cueto's Success ESPN FanGraphs Joey Votto Johnny Cueto Los Angeles Dodgers Reds Matchups Reds Recap

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