I'm as happy as the next guy to see Cueto starting on Opening Day. It's a great testament to, among other things, the organization's ability to develop its own pitching talent. That said, I am skeptical of the growing number of stories, most of them in the "mainstream" baseball media, that tout Cueto as an ace (see this Reds.com story
from Mark Sheldon as a most recent example). An excerpt:
CINCINNATI -- Johnny Cueto has ascended to a role in the Reds' rotation many hoped he would eventually assume five seasons ago when he was just a 22-year-old kid debuting in the Majors.
Cueto, now 26, is Cincinnati's undisputed No. 1 starter. Of course, that means he has the honor of taking the mound on Opening Day vs. the Marlins on Thursday at Great American Ball Park.
Now, I know that part of this just has to do with the need for Sheldon to "skim the surface" of the real narrative -- and I certainly hope that he knows that Cueto has neither the track record nor the peripherals to suggest he is truly a dominant pitcher. Most projections have him regressing a bit this year, even if there is a growing recognition that his ability to induce ground balls may indeed be a sustainable skill, in some sense replacing the need to "miss bats" that most saber-inclined minds seek in order to identify a true "ace."
My question is this: at what point do you think Cueto can be universally acknowledged as an ace?
If anything, I think Latos is probably the SP more worthy of that distinction on the staff at this point, but I'm very curious as to what RedZoners think about Cueto's status and when he could approach the level that writers like Sheldon already seems ready to give him after just one partial season of an elite ERA.