When healthy, it is very hard to realistically deny that Johnny Cueto isn't among the most dominant starting pitchers in professional baseball. Again, the key phrase here is when healthy.
Truth be known the right-hander has been stifling hitters for many seasons now, however, his historic start to the 2014 campaign is finally starting to give him the national attention he deserves.
After Thursday's complete game shutout against the Padres, Cueto officially became the first pitcher since 1909 to start the season pitching at least seven innings and allowing two or fewer runs in his first nine starts. Furthermore, the complete game already marked the third of the year for the Dominican native and effectively lowered his league leading earned run average to 1.25. This is not to mention he leads the league in innings pitched (72), WHIP (0.708) and strikeouts (76), among other categories, as well.
It goes without saying, but Cueto's blistering pace has made him the clear frontrunner in the early season race for the National League Cy Young Award. And that means he is garnering plenty of ink from the national writers and bloggers alike. Here are a few of the more notable articles written about Cueto recently:
+ C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer asks whether Cueto is the best pitcher in MLB. For my money, he certainly has been. At least through the first six weeks or so of the season.
+ Eric Stephen of SB Nation points out that Cueto has had a quietly dominant start to 2014. I'm going to disagree with Stephen here. There's been nothing quiet about Cueto's performance on the mound other than people haven't been talking about it enough.
+ Has Cueto become the no brainer pick for the 2014 Cy Young Award? Joel Reuter of the Bleacher Report certainly thinks so.
+ David Schoenfield of ESPN.com calls Cueto a "thoroughly dominant force."
+ In a special for FoxSports.com, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs tries to breakdown why Cueto is so hard to hit. Spoiler: One reason is because Cueto is striking out hitters at a higher rate than usual.
Cleveland may have Johnny Football. But Cincinnati has Johnny Baseball.