Sep 16, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Reds came up short on the field and in the awards balloting this year, but the Cleveland Indians helped the state of Ohio avoid a complete whiff on Major League Baseball hardware for 2014. On Wednesday, Reds’ ace Johnny Cueto got devoured in the voting for the National League Cy Young Award, but Cleveland’s Corey Kluber took home the American League Cy Young, as announced at MLB. com. The two pitchers are apt personifications for their teams on the whole.
Cueto led the Cy Young race through the first half of the season as the Reds struggled early and then turned on the jets, heading into the All-Star break as arguably baseball’s hottest team. Cueto’s peripheral numbers dipped ever so slightly in the second half, but he stayed healthy and led the NL in innings pitched and strikeouts while going 10-3 after the break. His problem was timing.
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Bad timing, that is, because he had his big season when the rest of the Reds were falling apart around him, and when general manager Walt Jocketty failed to make any moves to plug the dam.
Bad timing, too, because he had his big season when Los Angeles Dodgers mound maestro Clayton Kershaw stormed back from a six-week dalliance with injury to put together a season for the ages. Or maybe Cueto’s bad timing had more to do with being born to the same generation as Kershaw, as the Dodgers’ unanimous vote today was his third Cy Young in four years.
Now, timing will work on Cueto’s future, as well, because his trade value has never been higher. The Reds are not likely to win in 2015 and Cueto will be a free agent after next season, which means he’s almost surely headed out of town, either now or before July 31.
Kluber, on the other hand, struck when the pickings were much slimmer in the AL and edged out Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners for the Cy Young. Unlike Cueto, Kluber won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2016, and he doesn’t hit free agency until 2019. Even though both Cueto and Kluber are 28, the Indians have timing on their side, but the Reds don’t.
The Indians are an up and coming team, with Kluber installed as their ace for the next four years.
The current Reds have already hit their peak (think 2010) and are spooling towards entropy. Age and (bad) health have already conspired to rob them of their contender status, and of their money, and soon the losing will rob them of Johnny Cueto.