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San Francisco Giants: Johnny Cueto moves one step closer to returning

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 22: Johnny Cueto #47 of the San Francisco Giant pitches in the first inning of the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium on April 22, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 22: Johnny Cueto #47 of the San Francisco Giant pitches in the first inning of the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium on April 22, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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Johnny Cueto is one step closer to rejoining the San Francisco Giants roster after being called up to Triple-A.

It appears San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is coming down the home stretch in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

On the heels of his fourth rehab start in the lower levels of the minors, it was announced on Wednesday that he will now be joining the Triple-A Sacramento roster.

He’ll take the mound again on Aug. 26 and he’ll make at least two Triple-A starts.

It’s been a long road since Cueto was originally placed on the injured list back on May 1, 2018, with right elbow inflammation. Before the injury, Cueto had gone 3-0 with an MLB-best 0.85 ERA through his first five starts of the 2018 season.

A few days after being placed on the IL, Cueto was diagnosed with a right elbow strain, which led to him being transferred from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL.

After tossing 7.2 scoreless innings over two rehab starts at Triple-A, he rejoined the active roster on July 5. He allowed 10 hits and five earned runs in five innings of work in his first start back.

Things didn’t get any better from there and he ended up allowing 30 hits and 16 earned runs in 21 innings in his first four starts back for a 6.86 ERA before he again landed back on the injured list on July 30.

He was initially diagnosed with right elbow inflammation once again, but two days later on Aug. 1, it was announced that he would undergo Tommy John surgery.

Since then, Cueto has been rehabbing at the team facilities in Scottsdale, Arizona and preparing to return to the team this season. After a bullpen session on May 18, manager Bruce Bochy offered up some encouraging words:

He officially returned to game action on Aug. 5, tossing two scoreless innings while striking out five of the seven batters he faced in the Arizona Rookie League. It was more of the same in his second AZL start, as he tallied two strikeouts over two shutout innings. His fastball was clocked at 92 mph during his second start, which is a tick above his 90.5 mph average during the 2018 season.

From there, he joined the High-A San Jose Giants where he allowed eight hits and five runs in seven innings spanning two starts. Most of that damage came in his second start, and the fact that he has not suffered any setbacks from a health standpoint should be the biggest takeaway.

Now he moves on to Triple-A Sacramento, with his next start coming on Aug. 26 against the San Diego Padres Triple-A affiliate in El Paso, Texas.

Barring any setbacks, Cueto will join the active roster following those two starts at Triple-A. The estimated timeline puts him back on the roster sometime during the first week of September.

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Starting pitching has been arguably the San Francisco Giants biggest issue this season, and getting a healthy Johnny Cueto back in the mix will only improve their chances in an uphill battle for a wild-card berth.

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