Thankfully, the news on Astros starter Lance McCullers is not as bad as it could have been.
The Astros got some good news yesterday when George Springer was only diagnosed with a thumb sprain. According to Brian McTaggart, Springer will miss about two weeks. It could have been worse, like the injury that cost Carlos Correa and Mike Trout 6-7 weeks last year. This means Springer can take a couple of weeks off and will be rested for the playoff drive. The lineup will not be the same without him.
Now that we know what’s going on with Springer, we can turn our attention to Lance McCullers. We discussed this on last night’s Talking Stros before the news broke about McCullers’ injury. We were under the impression that McCullers had elbow discomfort. This type of injury gets people talking about Tommy John surgery. Thankfully, that was not the case here.
McCullers should return this year.
According to Chandler Rome, “McCullers has a muscle strain in his forearm.” With this injury, AJ Hinch said that McCullers would not pitch until September. Keep in mind that he said will not pitch, not that he will return before September. They will probably start a throwing program and do some simulated games before he returns.
In September, rosters will expand so he can build up back to game speed on the fly. Unless there are some minor league teams in the playoffs, their season winds down at the end of August. While McCullers is out, the Astros may need to decide what role will he serve in the playoffs. If he is to be a starter, they will have to build up his pitch count quickly.
This brings up the idea that McCullers hates, he will probably become a reliever for the playoffs. Then again, will there even be a spot on the playoff roster for McCullers? They have beefed up their bullpen with the Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna trade. They will also likely only have four starters for the playoffs. Where will McCullers fit with them carrying fewer pitchers?
McCullers will be on the playoff roster if healthy.
We saw how valuable he and Charlie Morton were last year as they alternated starts in the playoffs. We have a long way to go before the playoffs, let’s not use the injuries as a crutch and surge forward. The Astros will use a four-man rotation until August 22. Then they will choose a minor leaguer to join the rotation.
Don’t look for Brad Peacock or Collin McHugh to move into the rotation. They are too valuable in their roles. The Astros will likely choose between Josh James, Rogelio Armenteros, Trent Thornton, Brady Rodgers, or Framber Valdez. Only Rodgers is on the 40-man roster, but he is coming off Tommy John surgery. We have some time to monitor the situation. There are only 38 players on the 40-man roster.
It’s disappointing to be without McCullers for the rest of the month, but it could have been a lot worse. The Astros got a good win last night on Marwin Gonzalez‘s three-run homer in the ninth inning with two outs. Players like Gonzalez need to step up while the others recover.