Johnny Cueto is a complete game-throwing machine

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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.

Report: Giants showed some interest in Phillies’ Maikel Franco at Winter Meetings

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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that the Giants were “sniffing around” on Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco at the recently completed Winter Meetings.

Franco, 25, would be a nice buy-low candidate for the Giants, who don’t have a reliable third baseman yet. Currently, Pablo Sandoval would get the lion’s share of starts at the hot corner. Franco was a consensus top-100 prospect going into the 2014 and ’15 seasons, but hasn’t lived up to the hype over the last two seasons. In 2017, he hit .230/.281/.409 with 24 home runs and 76 RBI in 623 plate appearances.

Moving Franco wouldn’t necessarily solve any problems for the Phillies. After signing first baseman Carlos Santana, Rhys Hoskins is expected to play in the outfield full-time. As a result, the Phillies have too many outfielders with Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams, and Aaron Altherr. Technically, the Phillies could move Santana to third base as he has experience there, but he hasn’t played the hot corner since 2014.

Franco is arbitration eligible over the next four seasons, which might be the most attractive thing about him to other teams.