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.
Free agent middle infielder Danny Espinosa signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, the team announced Saturday. The deal includes an invite to spring training, where Espinosa is scheduled for his first split-squad game against the Orioles this afternoon.
Espinosa, 30, was inked to another minor-league deal with the Yankees in January. The veteran infielder was competing for an infield job until the team picked up second baseman Neil Walker on a one-year, $4 million deal last Monday. Prior to his release, he slashed .160/.276/.320 with one home run through his first 12 games with the Yankees this spring. He didn’t fare much better in the majors last year, either, batting a cumulative .173/.245/.278 with six home runs and a .523 OPS in 295 PA for the Mariners and Rays.
Blue Jays starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is still dealing with a bone spur in his heel and has officially been ruled out for Opening Day, which could clear a path for Espinosa to claim a starting role in Toronto. Of course, he won’t be the only candidate under consideration — Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz are still in the mix as well, though no final decision appears to be made just yet.