The SF Giants finalized the roster for the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers and there were two omissions. The first omission was Brandon Belt, but he is not on the roster due to a fractured thumb that he sustained in the final week of the season. The other omission was Johnny Cueto, who had just returned from the injured list.
SF Giants: Johnny Cueto does not make the NLDS roster
In a five-game series, there is not a need for a fourth starting pitcher and the Giants had already tabbed southpaw Alex Wood as the bulk innings reliever. This meant that there was not a role for Cueto in the NLDS.
It is a tough blow for the veteran pitcher, but the elbow strain he sustained at the end of August was at an inopportune time. When he returned, the Giants had relegated him to the bullpen where he only accumulated one appearance. In that lone outing, he allowed one earned run on three hits with one walk and three strikeouts in 2.1 innings. It was the first appearance out of the bullpen in his 14-year career.
In total, the right-handed hurler registered a 4.08 ERA, 4.05 FIP, 1.36 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, and a solid 3.27 SO/W ratio across 114.2 innings in 2021. These are good numbers but this level of production is that of a back-end starter for a team that wins 107 games.
That said, there could be a need for Cueto if the Giants advance to the NLCS where they will play a seven-game series. San Francisco would likely use Wood as the fourth starter if they choose to carry one, which could open a roster spot for Cueto.
On the other hand, Cueto’s bullpen outing last week could have been his final appearance in a Giants uniform. The team holds a $22 million option for 2022 that they can buy out for $5 million, which is a move that the front office will almost certainly make. Nevertheless, that is a detail that the Giants will address when the season ends. For now, they hold a 1-0 lead against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and they are looking for another win in Game 2 on Saturday night.