Right-hander Johnny Cueto's success through nine starts is something to behold. And his teammates believe the rest of the country should take notice.

"I was watching TV the other day and they still were talking about Greinke and Kershaw and Fernandez. I'm like, 'What about Johnny C?,'" Reds shortstop Zack Cozart said. "He never leaves anything over the plate for them to drive; he's always around the corners. Since I've been in the big leagues, he (has pitched) as well as anyone I've seen."

On Thursday afternoon, Cueto pitched his fourth complete-game shutout -- his second this season -- in a 5-0 win over the San Diego Padres. Cueto allowed just three hits en route to his ninth complete game -- third this year -- while lowering his major-league-leading ERA to 1.25.

Cueto's the first big-league pitcher since 1909 to pitch at least seven innings in his first nine starts while allowing two earned runs or fewer. He hasn't allowed more than five hits in any game this season.

"The thing that's amazing about this whole start of the season for Johnny is that every pitch has consequence to it," manager Bryan Price said. "He doesn't get caught up (in the score). It doesn't matter. He just attacks the hitter with great confidence. I haven't seen him back down to a hitter. He challenges everybody in the zone with good quality pitches."

Cueto, who has allowed five runs in 55 innings this season and has pitched into the eighth inning in six straight starts, said he didn't feel particularly before Thursday's outing, which came on a cool afternoon at Great American Ball Park following Wednesday's postponement due to rain.

"When you have more days off than normal, your body gets heavier," Cueto said through interpreter Tomas Vera. "I didn't feel loose or as strong in the bullpen. I worked around it."

Reds catcher Brayan Pena said Cueto (4-2) is so confident in his pitches right now that occasionally he has to pull in the reins.

"Sometimes I have to be the bad guy," Pena said. "He trusts his pitches so much, he's not afraid to throw any of them behind (in) the count. His mindset is so strong, it's fun to be behind the plate for him and hopefully all the position players say the same thing."

When asked if he's the best pitcher in baseball right now, Cueto responded with confidence, "I would say yes. The numbers talk."