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Johnny Cueto = Next Year's Lincecum?

Johnny Cueto is a dead ringer for Tim Lincecum.  Let me count the ways:

  • Under six feet tall
  • Average fastball over 93 mph
  • Burst on the scene with much fantasy and real-life fanfare, and then were somewhat forgotten
  • Play for smaller-market teams
  • Rookie ERA of 4+
  • Strong rookie strikeout rate but less than ideal control

Lincecum was being picked 121st on average in March of this year.  That's the 11th round, right around James Shields, Rich Hill, and Brad Penny.  That's what happens with a promising arm coming off a good but not great season (with the exception of Felix Hernandez, who still went in the 8th).

CHONE, ZiPS, and RotoAuthority implored you to pick Lincecum, projecting a sub-3.30 ERA with tons of strikeouts.  I wouldn't go that far with Cueto, who plays in a tougher ballpark and has struggled with the longball.  However, Cueto's 16.0% HR per flyball rate is bound to come down.  We thought the same about Felix Hernandez, A.J. Burnett, and Derek Lowe last year and did they indeed regress to normal rates in '08.  Plus, Cueto has better rookie-year control than Lincecum did.

Cueto pitched 161.3 innings in '07, so hopefully Dusty Baker cuts him off before 190 this year.  That shouldn't be a problem; even 190 innings might mean 33 starts for Cueto.

I'd like to start up the Johnny Cueto Bandwagon for 2009.  This is a guy you can probably get in the 10th round, where many interesting starters reside every year. 

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