KC Royals: Time To Panic About Johnny Cueto

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KC Royals “ace” Johnny Cueto lost his fourth consecutive game Sunday night, victimized by the fired up White Sox, who finished a 3-0 series sweep with a 7-5 win. We’re past the, “It’s only one bad game” excuses. Today would be a good time for Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore to panic* about his prize deadline acquisition.

[*note: yes, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy reference is intentional.]

A good GM has to have more than a little bit of fear in him. He needs to see problems before they occur so that he can have an answer ready if the worst happens. Panicking BEFORE the crisis allows you to prepare for contingencies that other people might dismiss as paranoia.

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Right now, Dayton Moore needs to be ready in case the Johnny Cueto deal turns out to be a giant bust.

I’m not saying that’s what I think will happen. I’m saying that Cueto’s last four games have been so worrisome, that Moore needs to be prepared for a post-season where you don’t want, or can’t, hand the ball to Johnny as a starter. Because if Johnny Cueto has four games in a row like this in the post-season, the KC Royals won’t earn a return trip to the World Series in 2015.

He’s been that bad.

Opponents have smacked Johnny Cueto for 21 runs in 20 innings pitched over his last four starts, giving up 37 hits, three home runs, and three walks with 17 strikeouts. Those numbers work out to a 9.45 ERA, a 1.35 BB/9, and a 7.65 K/9.

The figure that jumps out at me is the 1.35 BB/9. That’s a big drop from Johnny Cueto’s career BB/9 of 2.59. Normally, you’d consider walking one fewer hitter per full game a good thing. But when a guy allows more than one run per inning, and is down more than one walk per nine versus his career norm, then you have think that he’s catching too much of the plate.

Could Johnny Cueto be suffering from a mechanical flaw that has caused erratic command? Or could Cueto have a minor injury that hasn’t been reported to the press? After all, he did miss time with elbow soreness earlier in the season.

A glance at Cueto’s recent game logs casts doubt on this suspicion. His fastball velocity is, if anything, slightly better than in his bang-up July, and his first four KC Royals starts.

In a way, the cause doesn’t truly matter. Johnny Cueto has shown us just how bad he can be in his last four games. If he repeats this performance int the playoffs, the trade will become a disaster. All KC Royals fan can do is hope Johnny Cueto’s futility doesn’t continue into October.

Next: White Sox Sweep The Kansas City Royals

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