A front-line starter
The only thing Kansas City was missing in the first half of the season was a true ace pitcher. That changed with the acquisition of Cueto at the trade deadline.
By adding Cueto, the Royals now have someone they can feel comfortable starting in a Game 1 or Game 7 of a playoff series. The only piece Kansas City gave up that had a chance to contribute at the major-league level this season was Brandon Finnegan, and he can be replaced in a deep bullpen. It was the right call for the Royals to go all-in with this roster and grab one of the best trade chips available in Cueto.
Cueto can more than fill the void left by Shields. Since 2012, Cueto has a 2.51 ERA, rankling only behind the untouchable Clayton Kershaw for the best mark in the Majors.
In 22 starts overall this year, Cueto has a 2.46 ERA (3.07 FIP) with 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings according to Baseball-Reference.com. He’s lived up to the billing in his first three starts with Kansas City, including tossing a four-hit shutout against the Tigers on Monday.
Adding Cueto allows the rest of the Kansas City rotation to fall nicely into place. Chris Young has been moved to the long relief role that he is more suited for at this point in the season, even if he has pitched well this season.
Edison Volquez has continued his improbable resurgence in Kansas City, pitching well enough to be a viable No. 2 in the postseason. While Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura have been disappointing this season, both showed last year they have the potential to be capable pitchers.
Kansas City won’t have the best rotation in the playoffs, but it may be good enough given the Royals talent elsewhere.
Next: The game is over after 6 innings