Johnny Cueto has been a very interesting player since signing with the San Francisco Giants in 2016. What should fans expect in 2020?
He was the starting pitcher for the NL in the 2016 All-Star Game in San Diego. That year, he went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 32 starts, striking out 198 and walking just 45 in 219.2 innings of work. That was good enough to finish sixth in Cy Young voting.
However, the last three years have been a struggle.
The 33-year-old has mad just 38 starts since the beginning of the 2017 season, and he pitched just 69 innings total in 2018 and 2019 as he was sidelined following Tommy John surgery.
There are plenty of reasons for people to be confused as to what Cueto will be in 2020.
The Giants will be counting on him to not only give them somewhere in the ballpark of 200 innings, but also to lead and mentor a young, inexperienced pitching staff.
At this point, Cueto is past his prime, so a repeat of his 2016 performance might not be possible.
However, as long as he stays healthy, he's still capable of eating up innings and pitching to a sub-4.00 ERA to help keep the Giants in games here in the late stages of his career.
He is still owed $43.7 million over the next two years, with a $22 million option for 2022 that carries a $5 million buyout.
Anything the Giants can get out of that investment at this point would be a welcome change from the past few seasons when he's spent the bulk of his time watching from the sidelines.
At the end of the day, the 2020 season will be a rebuilding year for the Giants. If Cueto can make it through a full season with good health and log 30-plus starts, it will be a successful campaign.