Lance McCullers is headed to the DL for the first time in 2018 for the Astros.
As much as the Astros struggled during their five-game losing streak, things have turned around. Last night’s 12-0 win versus the Dodgers was one of the best overall games of the season, despite the circumstances. It was a 1-0 Astros lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning. Lance McCullers started warming up. When he gave AJ Hinch a look, he knew what it meant right away and started to walk to the mound.
After getting the final out in the fourth, you could tell that McCullers didn’t feel right. McCullers went and talked to Hinch and told him, but he wanted to go back out. After two warmup pitches, the pain was too much for McCullers. He was removed after four shutout innings, pointing to right elbow. Jake Kaplan tweeted that he left with, “abnormal forearm soreness and stiffness.” The Astros described it as right elbow discomfort. Either way, it’s not good.
Everyone is keeping an eye out for McCullers new.
McCullers has already set a new career high of 126 innings in a year, passing his 125 2/3 high in 2015. He has a 10-6 record with a 3.93 ERA while striking out 138 hitters in those 126 innings via Baseball-Reference. While he throws hard, his success stems from his power curveball and throwing pitches out of the strike zone.
McCullers is a critical piece to the team. They were not going to take any chances with him. Instead of playing short for a few days, the Astros decided to place him on the 10-day DL. Cionel Perez was probably planning on going back to Triple-A before the game last night. With McCullers injury, this allows Perez to stick around for now. Roberto Osuna was activated before today’s game, according to Chandler Rome.
As the Astros wait to see what his medical diagnosis will be, this now opens a spot in the Astros rotation. The Astros were the only team to have the same five starters pitch all year. We have seen the team test their hitting depth with injuries to Brian McCann, Carlos Correa, and Jose Altuve. Now we will see how they can replace McCullers in the rotation.
Four man rotation for now.
According to Jeff Luhnow via Brian McTaggart, the scheduled off days will allow them to not need a fifth starter. Luhnow as mentioned that the move was precautionary and they would have skipped his next start anyway. Hinch echoed the four-man rotation plan for the next two weeks. They will know more once he gets examined in Houston. Hopefully, it’s nothing major, but you get serious every time you hear a pitcher talk about elbow pain. Let’s cross that bridge if needed later.
Should the injury go beyond ten days, the Astros could move Collin McHugh to the rotation. But, he has proved to be a weapon out of the bullpen this year. Perez has been a starter up until he made his big league debut this year, so he is the pitcher most stretched out on the active roster. Brad Peacock had some success as a starting pitcher last year, would he get another look?
Rogelio Armenteros, Josh James, Trent Thornton, Cy Sneed, and Brady Rodgers are some options in Triple-A. Some people feel like Forrest Whitley will be up in September, but he is on the DL. James could be the most likely candidate to be called up, but Thornton and Rodgers are on the 40-man roster. Hopefully, it’s nothing major. We will find out more soon.