The Major League Baseball website has a gameday tool that is great to “watch” a live game with and fun to go back and recap how things happened in the game. Following Johnny CuetoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s dominant first start, I thought it would be interesting to go back and see how he pitched to different batters in the Diamondback lineup. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be looking at him pitching to centerfielder Chris Young, secondbaseman Orlando Hudson and rightfielder Justin Upton, who tagged him for the only hit and run Cueto gave up.
In the first inning, Cueto started leadoff hitter Chris Young with an outside fastball (92 MPH) for ball one. The second (93 MPH) pitch was a fastball over the plate for a swinging strike. The third pitch was another fastball (93 MPH) inside for ball two. The 4th pitch was yet another fastball (93 MPH)on the outside part of the plate for a called strike. Cueto struck Young out on the 5th pitch, a fastball (94 MPH) low and on the outside part of the plate.
Young came up again in the 3rd inning. This time Cueto started up off with a slider (84 MPH) on the outside part of the plate for a called strike. Cueto then threw another slider (84 MPH) that Young fouled off. With two strikes, Cueto threw a fastball (92 MPH) outside for a ball. With the count 1-2, Cueto threw another fastball (93 MPH) on the inside corner of the plate for a called strike.
YoungÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s final at bat against Cueto came with two outs in the 6th. Cueto started him off again with a fastball (93 MPH) outside for a called strike. The next pitch was another fastball (94 MPH)outside that Young fouled off. With the count 0-2, Cueto threw another fastball (88(MPH) low for a ball. This was followed by a slider (86 MPH) outside that was fouled off and another slider inside that was also fouled off. With the count at 1-2, Cueto threw another fastball on the outside corner for a called third strike.
THOUGHTS: Obviously Cueto had YoungÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s number. The flip side is that Young is not exactly hard to strike out (7 Ks this year already and 141 last year in 148 games). Against Young, Cueto threw both his fastball and his slider in two strike counts, and pitched to both sides of the plate against Young. He struck Young out with fastballs on the inside and outside parts of the plate.
In HudonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first at bat, Cueto started him off with a fastball (93 MPH) on the inside part of the plate, for a swinging strike. This was followed by a slider (86 MPH) well inside for a ball and another slider (84 MPH) on the inside part of the plate for a called strike. Cueto then came back with a fastball (94 MPH) inside that Hudson fouled off and an inside fastball (94 MPH) that Hudson grounded down to Hatteberg at first.
In HudsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s next at bat, Cueto started him off with a slider (93 MPH) very low for ball one and a fastball (93 MPH) inside for ball two. Hudson then hit the next pitch, a fastball (92 MPH) outside, to Dunn in left field.
In HudsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s third at bat, Cueto threw just his second changeup (85 MPH) of the game (the first was to Salazar, also a lefty, in the 6th) for a ball. Hudson fouled off the next 5 pitches: the first two fastballs (both 92 MPH, both inside) the second two sliders (both 85 MPH, one inside and one outside) and another fastball (93 MPH, inside). The seventh pitch of the at bat was a ball, a slider (85 MPH) outside. On the 8th pitch of the at bat, Hudson grounded out to Phillips at second on a slider (85 MPH) outside.
THOUGHTS: In all three at bats, Cueto really tried to establish himself inside on Hudson. And while Hudson is not a great hitter, he is a good one and it is good to see Cueto unafraid to pitch inside to lefties. He really battled Hudson in the last at bat but never gave in.
In Justin UptonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first at bat, like everyone else the first time through the lineup, he was started with a fastball (92 MPH), this one outside for a swinging strike. Cueto followed with a fastball (92 MPH) way outside for ball one. Then it was a slider (85 MPH) on the inside half of the plate for a called strike and another slider (86 MPH)on the outside part of the plate that Upton fouled off. Cueto finished Upton off with a fastball (93 MPH) on the inside part of the plate for a swinging strikeout.
UptonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s second at bat in the 6th inning ended CuetoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s perfect game. Cueto started him of with a fastball (92 MPH) on the outside part of the plate that Upton swung at and missed. Then came a changeup (IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m guessing as MLB lists it as an 82 MPH fastball) high and inside for a ball and a slider (82 MPH) on the outside part of the plate for a swinging strike. Then came a fastball (93 MPH) on the inside part of the plate that Justin Upton planted in the left field stands to end the perfect game.
Conclusions: DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t throw Upton an inside fastball! I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see the pitch but it looks like it was an inside fastball that caught too much of the plate since I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think Cueto wanted to leave something that close on a 1-2 count. He did throw an inside fastball to Upton on a 1-2 count the previous at bat so maybe repeating that strategy on Upton wasn’t wise. But he was being aggressive, as he had all game, no matter the count.
Some other things I noticed while going through the pitch data:
-Cueto used nothing but fastballs and sliders through the first 4 innings.
-He threw just two changeups, one to Jeff Salazar and one to Orlando Hudson, both lefties.
-On his last pitch, number 92, his fastball was still hitting 92 MPH.
-74% of his pitches were strikes.
-He reached 3 ball counts on no one.
-He reached 2 ball counts on only 8 batters.
-Only 3 times did he reach a hitters count (2-0, 3-1 and 3-0)
-Of the 22 batters he faced, he started 17 of them off with strikes (foul balls, called strikes and swinging strikes).
It was just CuetoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first start but it was a great start any way you want to measure it. He seems to rely on his fastball and slider a lot but when it’s working, why go away from it? It will be interesting to see what he uses as his third pitch when he ends up needing it, which he will. It was also nice to see that Dusty pulled him at 92 pitches instead of letting him throw however many he needed to complete the game to Ã¢â‚¬Å“teach how to finish what he started.” Here’s to many more good starts from Johnny Cueto.