In a hot stove season that was dominated by free agent aces, all the attention had been on where David Price and Zack Greinke would sign.
Sure, some of that spotlight was on Johnny Cueto, but he was sort of in that tier just below Price and Greinke, right about where Jordan Zimmermann was. As it turns out, that second tier of free agent aces have been the better investment thus far, as Zimmermann is off to a 7-2 start with a 2.52 ERA, and Cueto just spun his second complete game in a row, both of which were against the San Diego Padres, only this one was a shutout. His last time out, he allowed a pity earned run to the Padres. Apparently he wasn’t feeling as generous on Monday night.
Over his last four starts, Cueto is 3-0 with a 0.81 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 33.1 innings. He’s averaging 8.1 innings per start over that span, and the Giants have won all four games that he’s taken the ball. Perhaps what’s been most impressive about Cueto’s season thus far is that he’s faced more batters than any other pitcher in baseball (293), and he’s only allowed two home runs. His mark of 0.24 home runs allowed per nine innings is the lowest by any pitcher in the National League, and is second to Jose Quintana (0.15) for the lowest mark in the MLB.
I’ve been hard on the National League West this year, and rightfully so, but the Giants have been red hot as of late, winning three straight, and 11 of their last 12 games. A month ago today on April 24, the Giants were 3.5 games back of first place, and now they hold a 4.5 game lead over the Dodgers. Beyond that, we can now start comparing the Giants to the other teams in the National League. They’re only one game back of the Cubs in the win column, and just three games back of the Cubs and their MLB-best 29-14 record. With their win over the Padres, the Giants now have more wins than any team in the American League.