Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto is less than a year removed from undergoing a Tommy John procedure Aug. 2, 2018, but he’s already nearing a rehab assignment, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle relays. Cueto will begin pitching in rehab games in the Arizona rookie league at the start of August, manager Bruce Bochy announced Tuesday.
The Giants’ expectation is that Cueto will factor into their major league plans this season, and considering the recent tear they’ve gone on, the 33-year-old could influence a playoff push. At 45-49, the Giants remain a serious long shot for a playoff spot, especially if they start dealing veterans by the July 31 trade deadline. For now, however, they’ve rallied to within three games of a wild-card spot in a crowded race.
Regardless of whether he does pitch for the Giants in 2019, Cueto has two more guaranteed seasons left on the six-year, $130MM deal he signed with the team going into 2016. The longtime workhorse and ex-ace lived up to the pact in its first year, firing 219 2/3 innings of 2.79 ERA/2.96 FIP ball, but has struggled with injuries and failed to perform to his previous levels since then. Dating back to 2017, Cueto has given the Giants 200 1/3 frames of 4.18 ERA/4.55 FIP pitching.
Meanwhile, another of the Giants’ high-paid veterans – third baseman Evan Longoria – revealed Tuesday that he could miss two weeks to a month because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot. The injury forced Longoria to the IL on Monday, derailing a superb stretch for the former superstar. Longoria has posted a video game-like 1.537 OPS and swatted six home runs in 34 plate appearances in July, raising his 2019 line to .241/.318/.446 (101 wRC+) with 13 HRs in 311 PA. The 33-year-old’s overall production as a Giant has still underwhelmed since they acquired him from the Rays prior to 2018, though Longoria’s recent play has aided in the team’s improbable run toward contention. As long as he’s out, fellow vet Pablo Sandoval figures to handle third for the Giants. That is, if they don’t trade Sandoval in the next two weeks.