Bruce Bochy just gave an update on Johnny Cueto’s elbow and said that surgery is a “strong possibility”. He was placed on the disabled list this afternoon and is expected to get a final answer/second opinion on his condition and the ensuing options later this week. But, yeah, surgery is high on the list. Tommy John surgery, in case that wasn’t clear.
The average recovery time is in the 12-15 month range. Recall that Will Smith underwent this surgery at the end of March 2017 and was pitching again on May 2nd of 2018. That’s a recovery period with zero setbacks, however. It’ll be different for a starter versus a reliever because Cueto will need to build up a lot more arm strength, to say nothing of command, control, and plain old muscle memory.
That sort of recovery is necessarily different, and it’s very possible that the best route for him will be to have the surgery within the next couple of weeks and then sit out all of 2019. If you’re curious about starting pitchers coming back from TJ surgery, you can start with Jon Roegele’s spreadsheet via MLBReports.com.
Drew Smyly, Michael Pineda, Joe Ross, and Edinson Volquez are starters who all went under the knife around this time last year. Smyly had his on July 6th, 2017 and isn’t expected back for the Mariners until the end of August. Michael Pineda had his on July 18th, 2017 and won’t be back until September. Joe Ross had his the day after Pineda’s and Volquez had his on August 4th, 2017. There haven’t been any recent updates on their situations and neither are expected to return this season.
So, without Johnny Cueto and a starting rotation with two rookies, some of us might be thinking that the Giants have adjusted their trade deadline strategy.
We are dead wrong.
The Giants will never surrender. According to the beat writers, the Giants plan to forge ahead with what they’ve got and see what happens. There’s a slim chance they move Andrew McCutchen by tomorrow, but it seems unlikely.
I think we know by now that the Giants are willing to do whatever it takes to
own the libs shove a huge middle finger in the face of conventional wisdom and the whole Never Rebuild ethos is based on the idea that only the Giants know what’s best for the Giants, and they’ll be damned if some pissant behind a keyboard is gonna tell them what to do.
We’ve been Giants fans long enough to know that if we want them to trade a couple of players for prospects to “reload” faster, they’ll just trade Heliot Ramos for a 33-year old starting pitcher who can pitch them into a Wild Card play-in game. Never put it past the Giants to deficit spend. They’ll friggin do it, man.
Cueto is under contract through 2021, with a $5 million buyout in 2022, his age-36 season. It’s highly unlikely a 34-35 year old pitcher will be able to provide value equivalent to the $63 million he’ll be paid over the next 3 seasons (or $68 million if you want to throw in that buyout), but that’s beside the point. The Giants, for better or worse, knew what they were getting into when they signed him. This result is always a possibility when signing a pitcher to a long-term deal. And, yes, there’s a chance they take a bath on the Samardzija deal, too.
The only intriguing possibility in all this mess is that the next time we see Johnny Cueto in a Giants uniform he might be pitching to Joey Bart. That’s a weird thought, but also the only silver lining in this whole situation, because if it happens, it means that the surgery was a success and Joey Bart’s wild ride brought him to the big leagues.
It hasn’t been easy for the Giants since the last World Series, and at times, it’s been excruciating. This season’s highs haven’t been very high, but the lows have been extremely low. Get well soon, Johnny Cueto. Never stop Instagramming and please let us know when your Johnny Cueto Infinite Hat drops.