Johnny Cueto pitched a three-hitter for his second career shutout Sunday against the Giants and finally accrued enough innings to put himself into the ERA standings, where he now ranks first in the majors at 1.72.
Cueto overtook Jered Weaver for the ERA lead. Weaver entered the day at 1.79, but he gave up three runs in a loss to the Tigers, leaving him at 1.88 for the season.
Because of a strained triceps muscle suffered in spring training, Cueto didn’t make his season debut until May 8. With today’s performance, he’s now made 16 starts and he hasn’t given up more than three earned runs in any of them.
Cueto, though, probably hasn’t been quite as good as his ERA suggests. In his July 26 start against the Mets, he allowed six unearned runs in five innings. For the season, 11 of the 32 runs he’s allowed have been unearned. Weaver, in comparison, has allowed just one unearned run in 168 innings this season.
To qualify for the ERA title, a pitcher must throw one inning for every game his team has played. Cueto is now at 109 2/3 innings, while the Reds have played 108 games.
Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.
This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.
Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.
Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.