If you see this type of analysis as a buzz kill, I guess I understand where you are coming from. But don't put words in people's mouths either. No one is saying Cueto is a bad pitcher or that they wouldn't be happy if he does well. Fact is, Cueto really hasn't been sustaining anything like elite results for very long, and his 2.31 ERA last year really should have been something more like a 3.50 ERA.
Just like you, we're all hoping like the dickens that he can take the next real step to being a stud starting pitcher. But we're managing our expectations with numbers. Consider these projections the most hopeful ones possible.
"Iíll kind of have a foot on the back of my own butt. Thatís just how I do things.Ē -- Bryan Price, 10/22/2013
I was one of Adam Dunn's biggest defenders from a value/production standpoint; I hated watching him hit.
Cueto had a great game today and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Believing that his skill set suggests he's likely to pitch like a #3 starter over the course of the season and not like an ace does not detract from that in any way. If anything, it makes games like this all the more enjoyable. When your expectations are more in with what actually ends up happening, you get disappointed less often and pleasantly surprised more often.
Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.
Right now, we track ground balls, which are defined as any hit ball that touches the ground before it touches a fielders mitt; flyballs and line drives, which are defined by the trajectory of the ball. These definitions tells us very little about how hard a ball was hit.
Many ground balls are hit harder than flyballs, and even line drives. Even many infield popups are very hard hit, basically homers that are just missed. So, just by looking at a pitcher's GB/FB/LD lines, we cannot with any accuracy tell how hard his pitches are being hit.
Now there has been a bit of research been done on the velocity of ball as it leaves the bat, but not enough to be able to draw any real conclusions. I do think that when that technology becomes more accessible, and more data like that accumulates, we will learn much more about pitching than we currently do.
"Man, the pitch looks fast, even in slow motion." Thom Brennaman on Chapman's fastball.
I do agree with what a few others have said - Cueto can get the strikeout when he needs it. Today was a good example. Three of his final four outs were via the strikeout. It seemed like he was reaching back for more because he knew his day was nearing an end at that point. His stuff is still filthy. I love watching him pitch.
I miss Adam Dunn.
Cueto's K/9 will tick up this year -- if for no other reason than he's developing a reputation as a tough pitcher to score on and hitters will start to press more against him.
Strikeouts are something of a self-fulfilling prophecy in that regard.
23 Years and Counting...
It is kind of counter-intuitive to say no pitcher exists that induces weak contact.
We know that pitchers do control the type of contact... i.e. ground ball, fly ball, etc. So why couldn't they also control, to some degree, the degree of contact? Part of being a ground ball or fly ball pitcher is having a heavy ball; location; velocity; movement... all those things. It sort of is contradictory to suggest those things can't also control how hard contact is made.
It goes without saying that if I throw a ball straight as an arrow, a hitter is likelier to be able to hit the ball square on the fat portion of the bat. However, if I have a lot of movement, more hitters are going to be slightly fooled and are not going to hit the ball as hard. That's already known to be common sense because it's the reason we see certain guys induce more grounders. I see no reason why we won't eventually find it within how hard balls are hit too.
"No matter how good you are, you're going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you're going to win one-third of your games. It's the other third that makes the difference." ~Tommy Lasorda