Johnny Cueto goes seven scoreless, lowers ERA to 1.94

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Johnny Cueto, who keeps straddling the innings threshold for the NL ERA lead, beat the Rockies by pitching seven scoreless innings on Thursday, lowering his ERA to 1.94.

Cueto missed the first month of the season with a strained triceps muscle, so he’s currently at 120 1/3 innings in the Reds’ 118 games.  Because he’s at one inning per game, he’s the NL ERA leader at the moment.  However, barring a stunning relief appearance, he’ll again fall below the innings threshold Sunday.

Cueto has a chance to make history.  Just one Reds pitcher during the expansion era has posted a sub-2.00 ERA.  That was Gary Nolan, who came in with a 1.99 ERA in 176 innings in 1972.  Before that, one has to go all of the way back to Dolf Luque in 1923 to find a Reds starter with a sub-2.00 ERA.

Also, no Reds pitcher has led the NL in ERA since Ed Heusser finished at 2.38 in 1944.  Cueto has a legitimate chance of ending that skid.  The NL’s next best ERA is a 2.48 mark belonging to Ryan Vogelgong.  Roy Halladay is third at 2.51.

Twins to retire Joe Mauer’s No. 7

AP Photo/Jim Mone
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Twins senior director of communications Dustin Morse announced that the Twins will honor former C/1B Joe Mauer by retiring his uniform number 7. Mauer announced his retirement from baseball on November 9.

Mauer will join Harmon Killebrew (No. 3), Tony Oliva (No. 6), Tom Kelly (No. 10), Kent Hrbek (No. 14), Rod Carew (No. 29), Kirby Pucket (No. 34), and Bert Blyleven (No. 28) as Twins to have their numbers retired.

Mauer, 35, spent 15 seasons in the majors, all with the Twins. He posted a career .306/.388/.439 triple-slash line with 143 home runs and 923 RBI. He won the AL MVP Award in 2009, won the batting title three times, earned three Gold Gloves and five Silver Sluggers, and made the AL All-Star team six times. Sadly, his career was limited due to injuries, including a concussion that caused him to move from catcher to first base.

Five years from now, Mauer will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot. There will certainly be some arguments for and against his candidacy. He retired with 55.1 career Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference, which definitely puts him in the conversation. But, as always, there’s never a consensus.