What Happened to Johnny Cueto?

Frank Jones

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What Happened to Johnny Cueto

Johnny Cueto is a name that may ring a bell for avid Major League Baseball (MLB) fans, but for those who haven’t kept up with the sport in recent years, it’s possible that his name has faded into obscurity.

However, Cueto was once one of the most dominant pitchers in the league, with a string of impressive performances that earned him multiple All-Star selections, an ERA title, and a World Series championship ring.

Despite this success, however, Cueto’s career has hit some bumps in recent years, and many fans are left wondering what happened to the once-dominant pitcher.

In this blog post, we’ll explore Cueto’s early career, his peak years, and the factors that contributed to his decline, as well as provide an update on his current status in the league.

Early Career

Johnny Cueto was born on February 15, 1986, in San Pedro de Macoris, a city in the Dominican Republic known for producing many notable baseball players. Cueto grew up playing baseball, and he was signed by the Cincinnati Reds as an amateur free agent in 2004 at the age of 18.

Cueto spent several years in the Reds’ minor league system, where he quickly established himself as a promising prospect.

In 2007, he was called up to make his Major League debut, and he impressed right away, allowing just one run and striking out 10 batters over seven innings in his first start.

Cueto went on to have a solid rookie season, finishing with a 9-14 record, a 4.81 ERA, and 158 strikeouts in 174 innings pitched.

Over the next few years, Cueto continued to improve, developing into one of the Reds’ top pitchers. In 2011, he had his best season yet, going 9-5 with a 2.31 ERA and 104 strikeouts in just 156 innings pitched.

He was named an All-Star for the first time that year, and he finished fourth in the National League Cy Young Award voting.

Cueto’s success continued in the following years, as he helped lead the Reds to the playoffs in both 2012 and 2013. However, he also faced some setbacks during this time, including injuries that forced him to miss significant time in both 2011 and 2013.

Despite these challenges, Cueto remained a key part of the Reds’ rotation and one of the most effective pitchers in the league.

Peak Years

Johnny Cueto’s peak years were undoubtedly between 2014 and 2016, during which he established himself as one of the top pitchers in the league. In 2014, he finished with a 20-9 record, a 2.25 ERA, and 242 strikeouts, leading the league in wins and innings pitched (243.2).

This performance earned him his second All-Star selection and his first-ever Cy Young Award vote, finishing second in the voting.

Cueto followed up his stellar 2014 season with another outstanding campaign in 2015. He was once again named an All-Star and finished the year with an 11-13 record, a 3.44 ERA, and 176 strikeouts in 212 innings pitched.

Cueto’s memorable performances during this time included a complete game shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2015 NL Wild Card game, helping the Reds advance to the NLDS.

In 2016, Cueto was traded to the San Francisco Giants, where he continued to excel. He finished the year with a 18-5 record, a 2.79 ERA, and 198 strikeouts in 219.2 innings pitched.

This performance earned him his third All-Star selection and his second Cy Young Award vote, finishing sixth in the voting.

During his peak years, Johnny Cueto was not only one of the top pitchers in the league, but he was also recognized with numerous awards and honors.

In addition to his three All-Star selections and two Cy Young Award votes, he also won the NL ERA title in 2014 and was named the NL Comeback Player of the Year in 2012 after his injury-plagued 2011 season.

Cueto’s unique and unorthodox delivery also made him a fan favorite and a subject of admiration among his peers.

Injury and Decline

Unfortunately, Johnny Cueto’s success did not last forever, as injuries and other factors have contributed to a decline in his performance in recent years. Specifically, Cueto has struggled with various injuries and ailments that have impacted his ability to pitch effectively.

One of the most significant injuries that Cueto has dealt with in recent years is a recurring elbow injury that first flared up in 2017.

This injury ultimately led to Cueto undergoing Tommy John surgery in August of 2018, which caused him to miss the remainder of that season as well as the entire 2019 campaign.

Cueto returned to the Giants in 2020 but struggled to find his form, finishing with a 2-3 record and a 5.40 ERA in 12 starts.

Cueto’s struggles continued in 2021, as he battled a hip injury that caused him to miss several starts. When he was on the mound, his performance was inconsistent, with a 3-3 record and a 4.14 ERA in 12 starts.

Overall, Cueto’s declining performance can be attributed to a combination of age, injury, and diminished velocity and movement on his pitches.

Despite these struggles, Johnny Cueto has remained a respected and beloved figure in the game, known for his unique style and unwavering competitiveness.

While his performance may no longer be what it once was, he remains a valued member of the Giants’ pitching staff and a testament to the enduring legacy of one of the game’s most colorful and talented players.

Current Status

As of my knowledge cutoff date of September 2021, Johnny Cueto was still an active player in Major League Baseball. At that time, he was in the midst of his 14th season in the league and his fourth with the San Francisco Giants.

Cueto’s 2021 season was a mixed bag, as he battled injuries and inconsistency on the mound. He made 21 starts for the Giants, posting a 7-8 record with a 4.15 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 106.2 innings pitched.

Despite his struggles, he remained a valuable member of the Giants’ rotation, providing veteran leadership and valuable innings when healthy.

Cueto’s contract with the Giants was set to expire at the end of the 2021 season. However, in January of 2022, he signed a one-year, $6 million contract to remain with the team for the 2022 season.

The deal also includes a $10.5 million team option for the 2023 season, with a $2.5 million buyout.

At the time of my knowledge cutoff, there were no significant developments related to Johnny Cueto’s career beyond his contract extension with the Giants. However, as always in sports, the situation can change rapidly, and there may be new updates on his status since then.

Johnny Cueto’s Career Overview Table

Teams played forCincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals, San Francisco Giants
MLB debutApril 3, 2008
All-Star appearances2 (2014, 2016)
AwardsNational League ERA title (2014), Silver Slugger award (2014), World Series championship (2015)
Career statistics (as of September 2021)134-89 record, 3.41 ERA, 1,635 strikeouts, 1.202 WHIP
Notable injuriesElbow inflammation (2011), strained lat muscle (2013), Tommy John surgery (2018)
Current contractOne-year, $6 million deal with the San Francisco Giants for the 2022 season, with a $10.5 million team option for 2023 and a $2.5 million buyout
NationalityDominican Republic
Unique pitching styleUnorthodox delivery, diverse repertoire of pitches
ControversiesKicked Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue in the head during a brawl in 2010, resulting in a significant suspension


Has Johnny Cueto won any major awards during his career?

Yes, Cueto has won several major awards during his career, including the National League ERA title in 2014, a Silver Slugger award in 2014, and a World Series championship with the Kansas City Royals in 2015.

What is Johnny Cueto’s unique pitching style?

Cueto is known for his unorthodox delivery, which features a series of quick, jerky movements that make it difficult for hitters to time his pitches. He also has a diverse repertoire of pitches, including a fastball, changeup, slider, and curveball, and is known for his ability to mix them up effectively.

What is Johnny Cueto’s nationality?

Johnny Cueto is from the Dominican Republic and is one of many talented players from that country to find success in Major League Baseball.

Has Johnny Cueto ever been involved in any notable controversies during his career?

While Cueto has generally been well-regarded throughout his career, he was involved in a memorable incident during a game in 2010 when he kicked Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue in the head during a brawl. The incident resulted in a significant suspension for Cueto and ended LaRue’s career.

Will Johnny Cueto be a Hall of Famer?

While it’s always difficult to predict whether a player will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Cueto’s career statistics and accolades suggest that he will likely be considered for induction. However, his recent decline in performance could hurt his chances, and it remains to be seen whether he will ultimately make the cut.


Johnny Cueto has had a storied career in Major League Baseball that has seen him experience both great success and significant setbacks.

From his early days with the Cincinnati Reds to his peak years as one of the league’s top pitchers, Cueto has always been a talented and fiercely competitive player on the field.

In recent years, injuries and other factors have contributed to a decline in Cueto’s performance, but he has remained a respected and beloved figure in the game.

As of my knowledge cutoff date, he was still an active player with the San Francisco Giants, having recently signed a one-year contract extension.

Whether Cueto continues to pitch at the highest level or decides to hang up his cleats in the coming years, his impact on the game and his legacy as one of the most entertaining and skilled pitchers of his generation are undeniable.

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