Injuries, injuries, injuries. If there’s one thing Cueto can improve upon next year it’s staying healthy. His season got off to an odd start with his father’s illness which led to him reporting to Arizona later than usual.
It really set the precedent for an odd year. A year plagued by injuries and ups and downs. His HR/9 rate was up to 1.3 from 0.6 in 2016. His BB/9 was up to 3.2 from 1.8 in 2016. Those aren’t very encouraging trends.
However, Cueto’s rough year may pay off very handsomely if he decides not to opt out of his contract. That isn’t a guarantee though. Cueto may be looking to jump ship after a season in which the Giants lost 98 games.
Let’s assume (and keep our fingers crossed) that Johnny decides to keep his unique style in San Francisco. If the Giants are to compete at all in 2018, Johnny Cueto returning to his post as co-ace will be absolutely necessary.
That of course means remaining healthy. Beyond that, I think we should have hope that the Cueto of old can return. This scenario seems very similar to the question marks around Cueto when the Giants gave him a big fat contract in the 2015 offseason. After he got traded to the Royals in 2015 (where he eventually picked up a World Series ring), his numbers were similar to his 2017 numbers.
If he can have a similar rebound to the one he had in 2016, then his injuries and struggles may be the best thing that came from the 2017 season.
Ultimately, he gets a C. I know that C’s are supposed to be average, and this season was anything put average for Cueto, but that’s kind of the point. Cueto has been well above average for most of his career. So let us hope that a) he is still in black and orange next year, and b) that his 2017 performance and injuries were just a flash in the pan.