Acing the Test

Shutting down the Pirates might not have really impressed anyone, but whatever doubts about Johnny Cueto that still lingered were dealt a serious blow last night.  His Reds opened a three game series with first place St. Louis last night, Cueto was dominant again.

This is one of those series that can break a young club.  The Reds entered 3.5 games behind the Cardinals, but not playing well at all at home.  Votto and Phillips continue to be sidelined with the flu, and Dusty Baker has been forced to run a makeshift lineup out for the second straight game.  The pitching couldn’t have set up better for the Reds this weekend, as they are trotting out Cueto, Harang and Volquez to face the division leaders.  Personally, I was worried the wheels might come off the season as they have for the Pirates this past week.  A sweep by the Cardinals, and the Reds would be dead in the water, 6.5 games back.

Instead, Johnny Cueto showed that the latest development in his evolution from prospect to solid gold is no mirage.  He quieted the Cards on one run in 7 innings, and left the game with a five run lead on a night when the ball was carrying out to left. When a guy can face off on a Friday night against a division/regional rival in first place, and get his team the first win of the series with a shut-down effort, he’s making a claim on staff supremacy.

Cueto dropped his ERA to 1.59.  He’s 23.  He’s laying claim to the title “Ace” on a staff loaded with talented and veteran pitchers.  This may not yet be “next year” in Cincinnati, but by next year might actually live up to its name.

Insert punchline here

Kuharsky chimes in with a nice mailbag.  That Garrison from Indy is one classy dude.  By the way, neither of us are really named Garrsion.

Judge and Oehser follow up on the pension issue.  I’m sure there can’t possibly be a Colts’ fan left that doesn’t read Oehser regularly.  His work is pristine, and this link is no exception.  He’s got the best example going to how pros should blog.  He’s totally filling the void left by Phil B in the offseason.  Some day, I’m sure I’ll disagree with him about something, and it’ll lead to a good debate.  When that day comes, I want everyone to remember just how much we do enjoy his work.

There’s an interesting series going on at Stampede Blue about finding the stats that really matter for predicting wins and losses.  Today’s installment looks at average starting field position.  It’s a moderate indicator, but most important is that since 2001, the worst average starting field position for any offense in a game was the 2005 Falcons who, on average, started at their own 15.2 yard line against the Dolphins.  I mention it because the in the playoff game last year, Indy started on average inside the 15.7 yard line of the Chargers.  That’s how close they were to the worst field position of any team in the last 8 years.  It wasn’t just bad field position, it was among the worst in nearly a decade.