Kansas City Royals Johnny Cueto Nursing Elbow Injury?


On Friday, the Kansas City Royals got almost exactly what they had expected from Johnny Cueto. Facing the desiccated carcass of the Detroit Tigers, Cueto allowed only two earned runs on eight hits and a walk as he pitched into the eighth inning. It was the type of performance that one expected from a player who was brought to solidify the Royals starting rotation as they head towards the postseason.

This start was especially striking as it came on the heels of what may have been the worst five game stretch of Cueto’s career. In his five starts from August 21 through September 13, Cueto allowed 30 runs, 28 earned, in 26.1 innings. Opponents produced a .390/.411/.675 batting line against Cueto in that time frame, becoming a reasonable facsimile of George Brett in 1980. It was not pretty, and was enough to begin to cause panic and the cancellation of Cueto Day.

Perhaps the difference was that adjustment that Salvador Perez made behind to plate to help Cueto feel more comfortable. Pitchers are strange creatures of habit, and something as minute as how a catcher positions his glove could make a huge difference. However, speculation has begun that Cueto may have some other problems, specifically with his elbow.

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If that is the case, and Johnny Cueto is nursing a sore elbow, that may prove fatal for the Kansas City Royals postseason chances. Should he be able to build off of his performance on Friday, Cueto would be able to team up with Edinson Volquez and Yordano Ventura to give the Royals quite the solid threesome of starters atop the postseason rotation. However, if anything happens with that elbow, the Royals would suddenly need to look at options like Jeremy Guthrie or Chris Young as a more realistic replacement plan for that fourth starter role.

Hopefully, these recent struggles are not injury related for Cueto, and that this repositioning of his glove will make the difference that he and the Royals desire. Just a little change seemed to make a huge difference, as Cueto looked like his old self. Add in some likely rest should the Royals clinch the American League Central, or if they grab home field advantage, and Cueto may be ready to be the pitcher he can be come October.

Of all the players on the Kansas City Royals, Johnny Cueto may be the biggest key to their postseason success. If he truly has an elbow problem, then the Royals playoffs could be doomed before they even began.

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