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San Francisco Giants: Johnny Cueto to return on Tuesday

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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Veteran right-hander Johnny Cueto will make his return from Tommy John surgery for the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday.

It was unclear whether Johnny Cueto would take the mound at all for the San Francisco Giants in 2019 after he underwent Tommy John surgery last August.

While the team has fallen out of the playoff race at seven games back in the wild-card standings, Cueto’s return will give fans reason for excitement down the stretch.

The 33-year-old last took the mound in an MLB game on July 28, 2018, and after an expedited recovery period, he’s finally set to make his 2019 debut.

He has six rehab starts under his belt over four different minor league levels, including a pair of appearances with Triple-A Sacramento.

All told, he posted a 3.38 ERA and 0.98 WHIP with a terrific 21-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 21.1 innings during his minor league rehab assignment.

His most recent outing was on Aug. 31, when he tossed six shutout innings against the San Diego Padres Triple-A assignment, allowing four hits with zero walks and six strikeouts.

Now he’s set to toe the rubber at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the team’s upcoming series.

The original target for his return was during the weekend series against the Los Angeles Dodgers that just wrapped, but a brief setback derailed those plans.

However, that’s proven to be nothing more than a slight bump in the road, and he’s now back on track.

When he was able to take the mound last season, prior to the season-ending Tommy John surgery, Cueto posted a 3.23 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with 38 strikeouts in 53 innings over nine starts.

With two years and $43.7 million remaining on his contract, along with a $22 million club option for 2022 that includes a $5 million buyout, the San Francisco Giants are counting on Cueto being a significant part of the near-term plans.

A handful of starts this September will allow Cueto to build some confidence in his repaired right arm, before taking part in a standard offseason of preparation for the 2020 campaign.

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Time will tell if Johnny Cueto can return to his pre-injury form. The first step in that process will be his first start back on Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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