Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto allowed just two runs over eight innings in a 3-2 victory over the Rockies last night at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. In doing so, he became the first pitcher in the majors to reach 15 wins this season.
Cueto gave up six hits and two walks while striking out six batters. The 28-year-old has now allowed two earned runs or fewer in six consecutive starts and hasn’t lost a start since July 2.
After being limited to just 11 starts last season due to injury, Cueto has compiled a 2.06 ERA over 26 starts this season while putting up the best strikeout (9.0 K/9) and walk rates (2.3 BB/9) of his career. His exploits are especially impressive when you consider that he makes half of his starts in the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park. The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw still deserves to be the favorite for the National League Cy Young Award, but Cueto isn’t too far behind him.
Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.
The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.
When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.
Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.
Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.