The Astros starting rotation has taken another hit, albeit, one that at this point in time was expected. Lance McCullers Jr. is out for the remainder of the 2023 season.
LMJ underwent surgery on Tuesday to remove a bone spur and repair the flexor tendon in his forearm. The injury to the tendon stemmed from his injury in Game 4 of the 2021 ALDS, when he originally strained his forearm. The strain cost him almost all of the 2022 season, with McCullers returning in time for eight regular season starts and the postseason.
He then aggravated the injury throwing a bullpen in Spring Training. At times this season McCullers appeared to be gearing up for a return, but after enduring multiple setbacks, the plug was pulled on his season.
There is no timetable on when LMJ may return, but it will be sometime in the 2024 season. With a proven veteran and playoff performer out for the rest of the season, it may very well leave the Astros in the market for a starting pitcher come the trade deadline.
This will be the second time in McCullers' career that he has missed the entirety of a 162 game season. McCullers signed a five-year extension with the Astros in March of 2021, but the extension didn't kick in until last season.
Since the extension went into effect, McCullers has made eight regular season starts and three playoff starts. It's always easy to look back in hindsight, but the $17 million Houston has committed to McCullers each year through 2026 could come back to bite them as other big names are in need of an extension.
The Astros rotation now consists of Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Hunter Brown, J.P. France and Brandon Bielak. Both Spencer Arrighetti and Shawn Dubin could make an appearance with the big league club before the end of the season.