The Houston Astros Should NOT Trade for Johnny Cueto

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Is Johnny Cueto the Answer?

May 19, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

That takes us to the next best pitcher on the availability market, Johnny Cueto.  The 29-year-old Dominican is in his 8th season and is enjoying another fantastic year.  At the half-way point, he is 5-5 with a 2.84 ERA, 0.917 WHIP, and 100 Ks in 104.2 innings pitched.  If you put him on a better club, he probably has 8 or 9 wins at this point.  He’s an ace, and he’s only 29.  So, why not trade for him?  I’ll tell you why.

The guy can’t hit!  Ok, we have guys who can take care of that part of the game.  Clearly, we’re looking for someone to start a game 1 or game two scenario in the playoffs.  If Cueto joins the Astros, he would certainly be slotted into one of those roles, but let’s examine his playoff history for a moment.  Johnny has been to the playoffs three times.  He has been handed the ball to start game one all three years.  His record is 0-2, with a 5.19 ERA and 1.731 WHIP.  The Reds lost each series.

Let’s take a look at each of those three games.  His most recent start was in 2013.  It was a one-game wild card playoff, and he only lasted 3.1 innings while giving up 4 earned runs.  The Reds lost, and they went home.  In 2012, Cueto started game 1 of the NLDS and lasted 1/3 of an inning.  The Reds lost that game and went on to lose the series in 5 games.  In 2010, Cueto started game one against the Phillies and actually pitched pretty well.  However, he only lasted five innings and lost the game while Cole Hamels threw a complete game shutout on the other end.

Another question I have is whether he can be relied upon.  I’ve already touched on his 1/3 inning in the 2012 NLDS.   In 2013, he could not provide stability for his club at the top of the rotations, hitting the DL 3 times with a right lat strain and providing only 60.2 innings out of the ace slot.  On the flip side, he threw an eye-popping 243.2 innings last season.  Both of those extremes scare me for a long-term signing, but the injury risk is much more pressing considering 2015.

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