The #SFGiants announced today that right-handed pitcher Johnny Cueto will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow. Dr. Neal ElAttrache will perform the procedure at the Kerlin Jobe clinic in Los Angeles.— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) August 2, 2018
Cueto went 3-2 with a 3.23 ERA in nine starts this season.
Elbow woes have limited Cueto to 53 innings this season. He missed more than two months with an elbow strain earlier this year, returned in early July, then made four starts before the elbow acted up again.
Following his last start, during which he allowed four runs in four innings, Cueto admitted he is in pain every time he pitches. From Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area:
"I keep telling you guys and keep telling myself I'm fine, but in reality, I'm not," he said through interpreter Erwin Higueros.
"It's very difficult. It's very hard to get loose," he said. "I feel very bad."
Back in 2015, when he helped the Royals win the World Series, Cueto had an on-again, off-again elbow problem that seemed to limit his market when he became a free agent. The Giants eventually took the plunge and signed him to a six-year deal worth $120 million. Cueto could've opted out of the final four years of the contract this past offseason, but didn't.
Cueto, now 32, was dynamite during his first season with the Giants, throwing 219 2/3 innings with a 2.79 ERA in 2016. He slipped to a 4.52 ERA in 147 2/3 innings last year before the elbow injury cut his season short this year. Cueto averaged 182 innings from 2008 to '16 and four times he topped 200 innings pitched.
These days the typical Tommy John surgery rehab timetable is 14 to 16 months. Teams no longer rush pitchers through a 12-month rehab. The timing of the injury means Cueto could return late next season, though it is possible he will be out until 2020.
The Giants come in Wednesday in fourth place in the NL West at 55-54. They are 4 1/2 games back of the second NL wild-card spot.