Thursday, August 11 2022

Cueto’s stellar Sox debut a positive sign for rotation originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Johnny Cueto is on the back-end of his career. He doesn’t throw the hardest, nor does he possess the most electric “stuff.”

But the 14-year veteran is a professional pitcher, as he displayed time and time at Kauffman Stadium Monday night.

Cueto, making his season debut and first start in a White Sox uniform after four appearances with AAA Charlotte, hurled six scoreless innings in the team’s 5-3 victory over the Royals, striking out seven and ceding just two hits and two walks.

“Throughout my career I always have put a special emphasis on my first start of the season,” Cueto told reporters through team interpreter Billy Russo. “It was exciting.”

Cueto was perfect through three innings and had faced the minimum number of Royals through four frames while throwing just 42 pitches, the fewest a White Sox pitcher has thrown through four innings this season. His command was pinpoint across his arsenal of pitches, and his patented, unpredictable delivery style had Kansas City’s hitters off-balance.

“He’s very deceptive,” manager Tony La Russa told reporters with a grin.

It was true mow-down performance until the sixth inning, when a Kyle Isbel double and Whit Merrifield walk placed runners on first and second with one out. But Cueto cooly induced a soft flyout from Andrew Benintendi and a swinging strikeout from Salvador Pérez — the Royals’ No. 2 and 3 hitters — to end the threat.

A hearty fist-pump followed Cueto’s whiff of Perez. He exited with a 3-0 lead, but ultimately drew a no-decision because of the Royals forcing extra innings with a three-run rally in the eighth.

“That’s what I work for,” Cueto told reporters through Russo when asked about the 92.8 mile per hour fastball that sat down Kansas City’s catcher. “I know that I have to save energy during my outing. And then once I know that my last balls are gonna be thrown then I just go for more.”

This is just one start, and the Royals are no high-powered offense. But if Cueto’s performance is a sign of things to come, the White Sox may have found a gem to augment their already-strong rotation.

And not a moment too soon, with a double-header looming Tuesday, then two additional games at the Royals on Wednesday and Thursday.

“To be that sharp, it shows his talent,” La Russa told reporters. “The number one thing we needed from him was to give us a chance to win. To go six shutout innings is more than — but you can’t be surprised, that’s what he has been his whole career.”

In that decorated career, Cueto has been a World Series champion, two-time All-Star and multiple times received Cy Young consideration. While the White Sox don’t need or expect the latter two levels of contribution, his time on the team is off to a rollicking start.

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Source: Yahoo Sports

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