Re: Where does Johnny Cueto rank against other ace pitchers?
Everyone seems to have a different definition of what an 'ace' is. Is James Shields an ace because he leads that rotation? Does Strasburg qualify yet? Is an ace the guy who can be relied on as a stopper in a short series? In any event, I think most everyone would agree that Cueto isn't yet in the highest tier of SP. That list probably goes something like:
Perhaps along with guys like Matt Cain and Zack Greinke, depending on how high you are on them.
Here's an interesting comparison: the mystery pitcher! Comparing stats from 2011-2012 (when Cueto 'turned the corner') -
Cueto (26 years old):
Mystery Pitcher (26 years old):
Eerily similar, aren't they? Any guesses as to who it is? It's a guy who is widely considered a very good pitcher, but I'm not certain the 'ace' term would be dropped on him that often - and I doubt he'd appear much in lists of the 20 best SP in baseball.
So here's the thing: is Cueto one of the 10 best SP in the game? No. Top 15? You could make a case both ways. Top 25? I think so, for sure. I just know he is very good, even if he doesn't stack up to the King Felixes of the world (though the HR/FB rate does worry me... another topic, another day). But that doesn't even bother me, because we have what so few other teams do: two guys behind him in Latos and Bailey that can be just as good. I mean, would anyone be that surprised if one of them stepped up to be the 'ace' this year?