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Thursday, May 15, 2014
Cueto's historic start to the season

By Katie Sharp, ESPN Stats & Information


Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesJohnny Cueto is having a historic season so far for the Reds.
Simply put, Johnny Cueto’s amazing start to the 2014 season is one that has never happened before in modern baseball history.

Cueto dominated on the mound once again on Thursday afternoon, blanking the San Diego Padres for his second shutout and third complete game of the season.

Cueto has pitched at least seven innings and allowed two runs or fewer in each of his first nine starts, becoming the first pitcher to begin a season like that since Harry Krause of the Philadelphia Athletics did it in 10 straight starts in 1909.

He has also allowed no more than five hits in each start, making him the first pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to allow five hits or fewer and throw at least seven innings in each of his first nine games of a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

After nine starts Cueto leads the majors with a 1.25 ERA and a .135 batting average allowed.

Elias tells us that since earned runs became an official statistic (1912 in NL, 1913 in AL), no pitcher had an ERA that low and an opponent batting average that low through the first nine starts of a season.

Let’s take a closer look at how Cueto shut out the Padres and has put up these ridiculous numbers so far.

Stranded again
Cueto did not allow a baserunner to reach second base until two outs in the ninth inning when Will Venable walked and then advanced to second on defensive indifference. Everth Cabrera then grounded out to end the game.

Opponents are now 2-for-27 – both hits were singles – with men in scoring position, and 6-for-60 with men on base against Cueto this season. Entering Thursday, he had stranded 99.5 percent of baserunners, and that percentage only increased with his performance against the Padres.

Changing it up
Cueto relied on his signature changeup, throwing it a season-high 25 times, and the Padres were hitless with two strikeouts in four at-bats ending in a changeup.

Cueto’s changeup has been literally unhittable over his last six games.

In that span he’s thrown 124 changeups, netting him 31 outs and only five baserunners allowed – all via walks. For the season, opponents are 2-for-41 with 18 strikeouts against Cueto’s changeup.

Battling back
Cueto threw first-pitch strikes to less than half the batters he faced but battled back to retire 12 of the 15 Padres that reached a 1-0 count. Starting behind in the count has not fazed Cueto this season. His batting average allowed of .108 after starting a batter with ball one leads all qualified pitchers.

Go inside
He also pounded the inner half of the plate against the Padres, with 50 of his 116 pitches in that location. Those pitches resulted in 13 outs, including six strikeouts, and no baserunners.

Opponents are hitting just .086 on inner-half pitches from Cueto this season, which leads all major-league starters.