Dusty Baker explains Lance McCullers Jr. has soreness in elbow
Here we go again...one day into Spring Training and Lance McCullers Jr. is dealing with soreness in his elbow. According to Dusty Baker, McCullers' developed the soreness after throwing a bullpen on Tuesday.
He was asked if this soreness was cause for concern, and Baker replied in traditional Dusty fashion:
"No, not really. We'll have to see. We've got to chill. Don't make something. You asked me."- Dusty Baker
While Dusty says not to make something of this, it is difficult not to. For one, LMJ has experience no shortage of arm injuries in his career. Second, immediately after saying it was not a cause for concern, Baker replied with "we'll have to see."
Dusty, and the Astros under Jeff Luhnow and James Click rarely divulged information to the media concerning injuries, though Dana Brown has been refreshingly transparent in his short time as general manager. Were it not cause for concern, would Baker have even offered the information?
The Astros simply can't afford to have Lance McCullers miss any sort of time this season. Yes, he was elite at keeping runs off the board, but more than anything, Justin Verlander ate innings and preserved the bullpen every time out. Losing his durability is a big blow to a young rotation. Houston needs a healthy Lance to keep big innings totals off of Valdez, Javier, Brown, Garcia and Urquidy.
When Lance is right, he's truly one of the best pitchers in the game. He finished seventh in Cy Young voting in 2021, his last fully healthy season. He has a 3.48 ERA for his career, and World Series Game 3 blow-up aside, has proven himself to be a great playoff pitcher.
His lone blemish is injury. McCullers Jr. missed all of 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He threw a career high 162.1 innings in the 2021 regular season, but went down with a forearm injury in the ALDS that kept him out of the ALCS and World Series, before limiting him to an August debut and eight starts in 2022.
If every piece of their rotation is healthy, Houston still possesses one of the best rotations in the game, with or without Verlander. If it were about any other pitcher, Baker's quote likely doesn't even gather attention. But with Lance's injury track record, it's rather eye-opening. If McCullers misses any sort of time, this is a big blow to the Astros.