Lance McCullers: The Houston Astros Phenom Debuts


The Houston Astros made a bold move on Monday to promote Lance McCullers from Double-A Corpus Christi (with a small stop in Fresno), to make his debut with the Houston Astros in Monday night’s game. This debut has to be the one of the most anticipated Astros pitcher to make their debut with the Astros since Jarred Cosart or to go further back with Roy Oswalt. While Mark Appel is the higher ranked prospect, McCullers has shown the drive this year to prove that he is ready. The Astros lost the game 2-1, but you can’t fault McCullers for the loss.

Lance McCullers Minor League Stats

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Last season in Lancaster, Lance McCullers struggled a little with a 3-6/ 5.47 ERA/ 115 strikeouts in 97 innings. Even when he struggled, he still was able to strike out more that one hitter per innings. This year in Double-A, McCullers went

1-1/.90 ERA/ 28 strikeouts in 20 innings

“I think it had more to do with my mindset last year vs. this year. I have grown closer to God and am much more confident in myself. My pure ‘stuff’ has always been there, but I had waited for my mind to catch up, and I think it has.” McCullers told me in an interview recently when I asked what the biggest difference has been between 2014 and 2015.

I asked McCullers after he found out that he received the news that he would make his debut if he were shocked? His response was, “I was, not because I don’t think I am ready, more because I just didn’t expect it this quickly!” McCullers showed the electric stuff that was advertised. However, he was done in by his nerves of his debut and a tight strike zone by the Home Plate Umpire.

McCullers Also Goes by Bruce Wayne

Astros fans were watching McCullers warm up in the bullpen; I’m sure most of them did a double take as to what McCullers was wearing. He made his debut wearing Batman cleats. In a world where high school students can walk around wearing a toy story backpack and not get pick on, why can’t a major league baseball player wear Batman cleats.

Here is a quote from McCullers via Astros Twitter tweet, “I like Batman, and I’ve worn those cleats all season…Christian Bale is the best Batman.” The question that was on most fans minds was can he actually wear those on the field of play. He was allowed to for this game, but A. J. Hinch hinted that he was not sure if he can wear them again, he will see what happens with what MLB says tomorrow. Why is it a big deal about him wearing Batman cleats? It could be issues where the Astros are inadvertently sponsoring Batman.

McCullers Stuff and Fan Reaction

The crowd reaction for McCullers’ was very exciting to witness because all eyes were on the young right-hander. They cheered him as he got one of his strikeouts, argued the strike zone for him, and pulled hard for McCullers to get the outs he needed. On the game, McCullers threw 93 pitches with 54 balls. He walked three batters while allowing many Athletic hitters to reach too often. Once he gets past this debut game or his next games, McCullers will start to put things together and pitch more efficiently.

I didn’t watch the pitch speed tracker for every pitch by McCullers, but I saw his fastest pitch was a 95 mph fastball, and the slowest pitch was 81. Being an Astros fan, the name that came to mind was Roy Oswalt. Especially with the vast difference with the curveball and the fastball. Many  Astros fans disagreed with that comparisons while others think that it right on the dot. I asked McCullers prior to his debut, which player does he feel is a good comparison for? Lance McCullers on Max Scherzer. “He is one of the reasons I made the mechanical adjustment to bring my arms over my head in my wind up.”

I’m going to through Max Scherzer’s name out as a player comp for McCullers, and we will see how it sticks. Let’s compare McCullers debut to Scherzer’s debut.

Max Scherzer: 2008 versus the Astros, 4.1 innings/ 0 ER/ 7 strikeouts.

Lance McCullers: 2015 versus the Athletics, 4.2 inning/ 1 ER/ 5 strikeouts

While the numbers are fairly similar, Scherzer is one of the current aces out there. Some people feel like McCullers will be a top of the rotation pitcher down the road. The Astros need him to step up and steal the 5th spot in the rotation, so the Astros can focus on winning with the best team on the field as possible. McCullers should get one to two more starts before Brett Oberholtzer could be ready to come back.

Keep your head up Lance, we think you pitched well.

Next: Keeping up with the Astros Prospects: Lance McCullers

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