The Herald Bulletin

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Sports Columns

May 16, 2014

Cueto in discussion about MLB's best

Yo, can someone swing that major league baseball spotlight over here a moment? Care to see the best starting pitcher in the game at the moment?

There he was Thursday, with ice bags on his right arm after shutting out San Diego on three hits, getting asked if he truly was the fairest of them all on the mound right now.

"I would say yes," Johnny Cueto said, via a translator. "Because the numbers talk."

Yes, they do. Listen to their chatter.

Cueto's earned run average is 1.25. Try to find one lower among any starter in the game. You can't.

In nine starts, he has 78 strikeouts, but allowed only 33 hits. No opposing team has managed more than five hits yet.

His shortest stint has been seven innings. The last Cincinnati pitcher who could say that after nine starts was Bucky Walters. In 1944.

You remember Harry Krause. No? That's probably because he pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1909. Quite an early season Harry had back then, going at least seven innings in each of his first 10 starts, and never allowing more than two runs.

Nobody has matched that, for even nine starts, in the 105 years since. Until Thursday. Cueto's nine pitching lines so far this season are like the movie Groundhog Day — every one just about the same.

"I didn't know that was something that was there," Cueto said of Krause's feat. "Now that I know, I would say, thank God I'm the guy doing it after a hundred years."

His 4-2 record might not sizzle, but please note, the Reds have lost two of his starts 1-0 and another 2-1. So Thursday against the Padres was cake, with a 5-0 lead.

"I think the thing that's amazing about this whole start of the season for Johnny is every pitch has a lot of consequence with it," manager Bryan Price said. "And he doesn't get caught up in (the score) being 1-1, 2-2, 0-0, 1-0. It doesn't matter. He just attacks the hitter with great confidence. I haven't seen him back down to a hitter."

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