Heading into the 2022 season, Johnny Cueto was a free agent pitcher in need of a team. Thankfully for him and the Chicago White Sox, General Manager Rick Hahn took a chance that no other team would on the veteran, and he has paid huge dividends on the team’s investment.
Cueto looked every bit like the pitcher the team hoped he would be following his performance in the White Sox 4-2 win over the Houston Astros Monday night. The victory was Cueto’s fifth of the season and moved the White Sox to two games out of first behind Cleveland in the American League Central division.
Things didn’t look good early for Cueto and the White Sox as the Astros looked every bit the best team in the AL as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
However, those would be the only runs Cueto would allow as he went eight innings giving up six hits and striking out three. Cueto lowered his earned run average to a solid 2.78.
Starting slowly seems to be something Cueto has had some issues with this season. But once he gets past the first inning or two, he settles in and puts together performances that give the bullpen a much-needed rest.
The White Sox should be so happy with what Johnny Cueto has done this season.
Cueto has made a case to be the White Sox’s second-best pitcher this year behind Dylan Cease. His ERA is second only to Cease in the starting rotation but he leads the team with 15 starts of six or more innings pitched. Cease is the only other starter in double-digits with 11 starts.
What makes that statistic even more impressive is those 15 starts have occurred during his 16 total starts for the season.
To say Cueto has been a workhorse would be an understatement. It’s probably also safe to say that Hahn’s signing of Cueto has proven to be the best move he made to help the club this season.
Cueto’s veteran presence has been a plus for the team, including his recent assessment of the White Sox’s need to play better which they seemed to take to heart.
After being signed back in April, Cueto made his White Sox debut on May 16th against the Kansas City Royals, picking up the win in a 5-3 victory. He has been on a roll ever since.
One of the reasons for his success has been his ability to pound the strike zone. Entering his start Monday, Cueto had a 65% rate of pitches for strikes. He improved on that by throwing 70 of his 100 pitches against the Astros for strikes while not tossing more than 20 pitches in any of his eight innings of work.
Cueto will be a free agent at the season’s end and will be 37 years old when 2023 gets ready for spring training. Still, it might be in the White Sox’s best interest to sign him for at least another year.
While not being a pitcher with tremendous velocity, Cueto has proven to be a cagey veteran who relies on movement and location to get hitters out. Since he isn’t throwing 98+ mile-per-hour fastballs, Cueto isn’t putting a lot of stress on his arm.
With his ability to command pitches, eat up innings, and not put great wear and tear on his arm, Cueto could be a nice addition to a team’s starting rotation.
Based on the injury history of the White Sox the last couple of seasons, it might be a good idea to sign the durable Cueto to at least one more year. If he could produce anywhere near what he has done to this point, it would be nothing but a plus for what should be a solid starting staff.