Johnny Cueto bolsters Cy Young case with eight scoreless innings

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Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto didn’t make the NL All-Star team, but he might well be the league’s Cy Young Award winner this season.

Cueto threw eight innings of three-hit ball and combined with Aroldis Chapman on a shutout of the Cubs on Sunday, giving him his 15th victory of the season.

Cueto is now tied with the Mets’ R.A. Dickey for the NL lead in wins, and he’s third with a 2.45 ERA, putting him ahead of Dickey at 2.72. The two pitchers ahead of him in ERA, Ryan Vogelsong (2.27) and Jordan Zimmermann (2.35), have 10 and nine victories, respectively, leaving them with an uphill climb if they hope to figure into the Cy Young race.

Cueto doesn’t measure up with others in the dominance stats. He ranks 17th in the NL with 127 strikeouts, and his 1.16 WHIP is 12th. Still, from a performance standpoint, he matches up pretty well with anyone in the league right now. A big reason: he’s given up just eight homers.

Despite being on a pace that would put him well above his career high for innings, Cueto thus far has managed to avoid his typical second-half slump. In each of his previous four major league seasons, he had a higher ERA after the break than before. That still holds true this year, too, but he’s currently 5-1 with a 2.61 ERA in the second half after going 10-5 with a 2.39 ERA in the first.

Red Sox trade Roenis Elias back to the Mariners

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The Boston Red Sox announced this afternoon that they’ve traded lefty Roenis Elias to the Seattle Mariners for a player to be named later or cash.

Boston had acquired Elias in the same trade that netted them reliever Carson Smith in exchange for Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro back in December of 2015. Since that time Elias has not been a part of the Red Sox’ plans, pitching in just four big league games — eight innings total — in all of 2016 and 2017 and not making an appearance for the big club this season. He was pretty solid for Pawtucket in 2016 but 2017 was largely lost to injuries.

Now he’s headed back to Seattle where, once upon a time, Elias posted a 3.85 ERA in 29 starts as a rookie for the Mariners.