Lance McCullers Jr.’s early exit from Game 4 of the ALDS is now explained. McCullers’ departure was due to right-forearm tightness and is under further evaluation. According to Jon Heyman, the Houston Astros‘ hurler’s MRI results show he will be good in the long run, but now, McCullers is unlikely to pitch in the ALCS.
This comes as a major blow for the Astros hoping for another pennant and a second World Series championship. If McCullers is out for the remainder of the postseason it would severely diminish an already embattled Astros’ rotation. Meanwhile, Bob Nightingale reported that McCullers could be back for the World Series, if the Astros were to advance.
Will the Astros new rotation be a replay of last year except without McCullers?
Let’s see what it looks like from here on out without their ace. Framber Valdez takes the top spot of the rotation and while he had a solid season going 11-4 with a 3.14 ERA, there’s not much left behind him with Zach Greinke already nursing a neck injury and in the bullpen.
After Valdez, look for Jose Urquidy to start in the two spot and the Astros to hope for a repeat of last postseasons success from Urquidy, who just returned in September from injury. Luis Garcia has been solid so far in his short season but struggled against the White Sox to maintain his control and composure in his 2.2 innings, giving up five runs.
After Garcia, Jake Odorizzi is the next logical pick to start Game 4 in Boston and the Astros can hope he has some of his September magic left. He had multiple quality starts in the month, taking his ERA down to 4.21 from the mid to high fours.
Odorizzi could start a bullpen game followed by Greinke, Javier, and Maton to get a solid seven innings and leave it to the Stanek, Graveman, Pressly combo to finish out the game.
As this comes out, will the Astros ALCS roster be changed to only have two catchers now and add an extra pitcher like Taylor or a long reliever like Bielak? Looking at the positive, the Astros lineup has averaged just under eight runs a game so far in the playoffs, and so to move forward, they will need that same firepower to keep their World Series hopes alive.
Update: Framber Valdez will start Game 1 and Luis Garcia will start Game 2