For a few years now we've been patient with Johnny Cueto because of the talent he possesses. Spring training of 2008, he was the breakout star and everyone had incredibly high hopes for him. Naturally at age 22 and being his first year in the Majors, he struggled to a 9-14 record with a 4.81 ERA. The Reds weren't expected to contend, and they didn't.
2009, 23 years old, Cueto went 11-11 with a 4.41 ERA in 171.1 innings. Again, the Reds weren't expected to contend and, again, they did not. Cueto was given another pass in my opinion.
2010 will be Cueto's third full season as a Major League pitcher. I think it's time he steps up and announces his presence with authority (thank you, Nuke Laloosh). Now, I know he's only going to be 24-years-old, but a guy with his talent should be progressing a little better. His inconsistency is sometimes frustrating and baffling all at once.
On a staff of veterans Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo, along with the steadily improving Homer Bailey as well as youngsters like Aroldis Chapman, Travis Wood, and Mike Leake, AND with Edinson Volquez quickly rehabbing his surgically-repaired elbow, Cueto has really been a forgotten man this spring. But, he is also a guy who has the ability to step out of the shadows and really help this team contend for the first time in a while. He could make that next step and not only make a name for himself but help the Reds become a team to be reckon with in the future. With the young arms they have coming up, this team has a bright future. But only if the young arms continue to develop like we all hope they can.
In my opinion, the time is now for Johnny Cueto. Year three is time to see some consistency and some positive progress. If not, people might start writing him off as a flash in the pan who has the talent but can't get it done.