Skip to content
“He messes up the hitters” – The Denver Post

Joe Kelly saw how starting pitcher Johnny Cueto progressed at Triple-A Charlotte while the Chicago White Sox reliever was in rehab.

He gave a positive review.

“Johnny Cueto looked good,” Kelly said last week. “Johnny is an awesome guy. He messes up hitters with timing, multiple looks, leg kicks, slide steps. Johnny does it to try and throw guys off balance and he’s a master at that. He commanded all of his pitches for strikes.

Cueto joined the Sox in Kansas City and started Monday’s game against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium after the team bought his contract in Charlotte.

“He’s had a really impressive career,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said before the game. “He throws with a certain style. … We went against him (when La Russa was managing the St. Louis Cardinals) and he gives you this and he gives you that and vice versa.

Cueto, 36, went 0-1 with a 5.17 ERA and 17 strikeouts in four starts with Charlotte after signing with the Sox as a minor league free agent on April 8.

“Road games weren’t his forte,” Kelly said, “just because the umpires – I’m not going to say they weren’t ready for Johnny, but when I saw him pitch with the automatic strike zone? Pfft. Good luck. He could point.

“Some umpires drop some of the ways his balls move, and they move a ton. So when he returns pitches and they hit in the strike zone but the umpire thinks it’s running away, it could get him in trouble.

“But these guys here, the big league umpires, they know that. They know Johnny, they know how it moves. He looks great. He will definitely help us this year.

Cueto is 135-97 with a 3.45 ERA in 330 appearances (329 starts) during a 14-year career with the Cincinnati Reds (2008-15), Royals (2015) and Giants of San Francisco (2016-21).

The right-hander is a two-time All-Star (2014, 2016), finished second in voting for the National League’s Cy Young Award in 2014, and is 2-4 with a 4.54 ERA in eight starts in playoffs. He made four starts in the 2015 playoffs with the World Series champion Royals.

“I said hello to him and then told him I was still feeling the effects of Game 5 of the 2015 (American League) Division Series,” Sox starter Dallas Keuchel said Monday. “He bonded well with us (when I was) with the Astros (from Houston) and he was traded to the Royals.”

Cueto allowed two runs on two hits and struck out eight in that playoff game on October 14, 2015, a 7-2 victory for the Royals.

“He’s been one of the best to do it for over a decade,” Keuchel said, “and it’ll be good to watch him from (our) side now.”

Cueto went 7-7 with a 4.08 ERA in 22 outings (21 starts) for the Giants in 2021.

Lucas Giolito was originally scheduled to pitch on Monday, but was placed on the COVID-19 injured list on Friday. Giolito began experiencing symptoms on Wednesday.

“The good part is that all the signs are looking at (Giolito),” La Russa said. “He will pitch in the series, either (Tuesday) or make an adjustment for Wednesday. That’s the good news. We will wait and see.

La Russa says Dylan Cease will start the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. Game 2 is TBD. Vince Velasquez and Keuchel are the likely starters for the Sox on Wednesday and Thursday.

Cueto is expected to be a factor in the upcoming rotation.

“We would be disappointed if he wasn’t,” La Russa said. “And we don’t expect to be disappointed. He’s done enough since he was sent to Arizona (for extended spring training) and what he’s shown in Charlotte (that) we expect him to be useful.

In Monday’s corresponding roster move, the Sox opted for infielder Danny Mendick in Charlotte. Mendick is 5-for-23 (.217) with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs in 11 games during two stints with the Sox this season.



Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.