Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto just made easy work of the Padres’ lineup, tossing a complete-game shutout in which he allowed just three hits and two walks to lower his ERA to 1.25.
Cueto has completed three of his nine starts this year, which already ties his career-high set in 2011. Coming into the season he had a grand total of six complete games in 160 starts.
And here’s another crazy stat, via Elias Sports Bureau: Cueto is the first pitcher with nine straight starts of seven innings innings or more and two runs or fewer to begin a season since Harry Krause in 1909.
Cueto was limited to just 11 starts last season because of injuries, but when he’s healthy and rolling there aren’t many pitchers better. Dating back to 2011 he’s started 77 games with a 2.42 ERA in 506 innings, which is the second-best ERA in all of baseball during that time behind only Clayton Kershaw at 2.19. No one else is below 2.80.
Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.
Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.
The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.
Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.
Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.
There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.
Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.