Sep 11, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) throws against the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth inning at Great American Ball Park. The Reds won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
In case you missed it, the Cincinnati Reds are in the middle of yet another losing streak, one that included a blowout loss for ace Johnny Cueto on Tuesday night. With nothing at all to gain and still plenty to lose as 2014 ends, it’s time for the Reds to shut down Cueto and look toward 2015.
The Reds have eight games left and don’t even have much of a spoiler role to play, since the playoff fates of all of their opponents are pretty much already locked into place. As it stands now, Cueto is slated to start two more games, including the last one on September 28.
This setup would give Cueto a slim shot at recording his 20th win on the season — he’s 18-9 through the loss to the St. Louis Cardinals earlier in the week — but would also build on his already hefty innings count. [related-posts]
Through 32 starts, Cueto has logged a career-high 227 innings, and every pitch he throws is another opportunity to injure his arm or shoulder or lat. That’s too big a risk to take for a player who is the team’s biggest asset heading into the winter.
Cueto will be a free agent after next season, which means he is a prime candidate to be traded, either this off-season or near the trade deadline next season. If he does hit the trade market, he will instantly become one of the top two or three arms available and should net the Reds a pretty good haul in return.
If Cueto remains with the Reds in 2015, it will be because the team really thinks it can contend.
Whichever of those two scenarios plays out (trade or keep), the Reds need to keep Cueto healthy, and shutting him down now is the best way to do that.