San Francisco Giants: Johnny Cueto Is The Best Pitcher in the National League

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 22: Johnny Cueto
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 22: Johnny Cueto /

San Francisco Giants current ace, Johnny Cueto, has started four games and allowed one run over 26 innings for a 0.35 earned run average, 0.654 WHIP, 23 strikeouts and a 1.7 Wins Above Replacement. In four games.

For perspective, Cueto earned a 1.8 WAR in 25 starts last season.His start to the season is not only special, it’s mandatory. The San Francisco Giants other ace, Madison Bumgarner, has yet to make a pitch in 2018 and won’t return until June at the earliest.

Cueto has shined in his familiar role as team ace as he had when he pitched for the Cincinnati Reds and Kansas City Royals before coming to San Francisco two seasons ago.

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The hashtag #DiaDeCueto has returned with confidence as Cueto has continued to dominate. In two starts this season, he has held a no hitter until at least the fifth inning and he currently holds a 13 inning scoreless streak.

However, Johnny Cueto and the San Francisco Giants had a rough season last year, to say the least, which led to many questions heading into 2018.

The first of which was if Cueto would even be a Giant after 2017. Cueto had an opt out in his contract as well as an opt in and there had been some speculation after 2016 that Cueto would likely become a free agent.

In 2016, Johnny Cueto was coming off his first season in San Francisco and he was everything the team was hoping he would be. He started the All-Star game and finished sixth among Cy Young voting at the end of the year.

Then, last season, Cueto struggled. Much of the struggles came from injuries he sustained during the season and trying to pitch through those injuries. Ultimately, Cueto came into the off-season with a much clearer answer to his opt out.

With four years and nearly $90 million left on his contract, it did not make sense to opt out and he would remain with the Giants. With Cueto showing how good he could be in San Francisco just one year earlier, there was some optimism that they could see the old Johnny Cueto again in 2018.

There was also some fear that his struggles in 2017 were a sign of things to come, considering the more recent history was less promising.

This 2018 version of Cueto might be the best he has ever pitched.