Johnny Cueto pitched a three-hitter for his second career shutout Sunday against the Giants and finally accrued enough innings to put himself into the ERA standings, where he now ranks first in the majors at 1.72.
Cueto overtook Jered Weaver for the ERA lead. Weaver entered the day at 1.79, but he gave up three runs in a loss to the Tigers, leaving him at 1.88 for the season.
Because of a strained triceps muscle suffered in spring training, Cueto didn’t make his season debut until May 8. With today’s performance, he’s now made 16 starts and he hasn’t given up more than three earned runs in any of them.
Cueto, though, probably hasn’t been quite as good as his ERA suggests. In his July 26 start against the Mets, he allowed six unearned runs in five innings. For the season, 11 of the 32 runs he’s allowed have been unearned. Weaver, in comparison, has allowed just one unearned run in 168 innings this season.
To qualify for the ERA title, a pitcher must throw one inning for every game his team has played. Cueto is now at 109 2/3 innings, while the Reds have played 108 games.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.