Johnny Cueto exceeding expectations, even from White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz

Johnny Cueto of the White Sox reacts after striking out Gio Urshela of the Minnesota Twins on July 14, 2022 in Minneapolis. (Getty Images)

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ARLINGTON, Texas – No one knows Johnny Cueto better than Ethan Katz. But even Katz, who was certain the veteran right-hander would be an asset to the White Sox rotation when general manager Rick Hahn was pursuing him in the spring, didn’t expect what Cueto has done after he was signed to a minor league contract on April 5.

“I had high expectations,” the Sox pitching coach said. “But he’s exceeding everyone’s expectations right now.”

What can be expected of Cueto when he starts against the Rangers Thursday night to open an eight-game road trip through Texas and Kansas City, is pitch at least six innings. That’s because he’s done that in 12 of 13 starts this season.

What’s more, Cueto is providing quality starts to the tune of a 2.86 ERA. He pitched six, eight, six, seven and seven innings in his five starts in July, with a 2.12 ERA.

“His command is really good, he can throw all his pitches whenever he wants to,” Katz said of the two-time All-Star. “The one thing I knew when we had the chance to get him was that he was going to face guys who hadn’t seen him because he has been in the NL West in so long. He hasn’t been in this division for a long time [when he made 13 starts in 2015 as a Royal, his only previous time spent in the American League]. That’s to our advantage.”

Katz was an assistant pitching coach with the Giants, for whom Cueto toiled in six of his 15 big leagues seasons.

At a time of power pitchers throwing every pitch with seemingly every ounce of strength and force they can muster, Cueto gets hitters out with movement, craftiness, recognition and guile.

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“He has a unique ability — some have it and some don’t — to read hitters,” Katz said. “He can see where the at-bat is going and pivot off something and go a different route. He’s a tough one to get on the same page with, but when he’s rolling and the catcher is working with him well, it can be really quick.”

Cueto may not look like a workout freak but he’s known for pushing his exercise routines to the limit. Katz knows from working out alongside him.

“The workouts he tries, he would try to break my down,” Katz said. “He tends to amplify things. If we’re going to run half the stadium he’ll try to run the whole stadium.”

Cueto will be a free agent again after the season and will likely encounter a livelier market, even at his age. If the postseason were this week and the Sox were in it, an argument could be made for him as …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times

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