Johnny Cueto was the big fish the Kansas City Royals reeled in at the trade deadline, but he has been floundering ever since he crossed over from St. Louis Cardinals. Things didn’t get any better on Sunday night as the Baltimore Orioles smacked 11 hits off of Cueto in 6 1/3 innings. Cueto allowed eight earned runs to raise his earned run average to 5.59 in his time with the Royals.
It looks like the pressure is getting to Cueto, if his body language is any indication. ESPN baseball writer Buster Olney tweeted during the game on Sunday about Johnny’s walk to the dugout after the fifth inning.
Cueto was originally supposed to start on Saturday, but manager Ned Yost asked Johnny if he would rather pitch on Sunday and he chose to push his start back a day. Earlier this week Yost explained the reasoning behind the move to The Kansas City Star.
“It’s all about getting him comfortable right now. He’s healthy. It’s just about getting him back going in a new direction.”
Yost’s plan obviously didn’t work as Cueto gave up four home runs. Adam Jones got him in the first inning. Jonathan Schoop hit one in the second and then another in the fourth. Then Chris Davis hit his league leading 42nd homer in the fifth inning.
Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland told ESPN before Sunday’s game that he thinks Cueto’s troubles have more to do with a lack of confidence rather than mechanical issues.
Kansas City may have been smart to have Cueto skip this series entirely as the Orioles tattooed him the last time they faced him as well. Back on August 26 the Orioles tagged Cueto for three home runs and six earned runs on just five innings of work. Schoop and Davis each had a home run in that game too.
Cueto’s struggles have to be a huge concern for the Royals as they get prepared for the playoffs. Johnny’s last playoff performance was a memorable one for all the wrong reasons. In 2013 in the National League Wild Card game Pittsburgh Pirates fans started chanting Cue-to and Johnny dropped the ball as he was preparing to pitch. The next pitch was drilled by Russell Martin over the wall and things just got uglier after that. Johnny lasted just 3 1/3 innings and got the loss.
What do you think the Royals need to do with Johnny Cueto to get him back on track? Or do you think Cueto is too far gone and can’t be helped?
[Image by Greg Fiume/Getty Images]