Lance McCullers Jr.missed the duration of the Houston Astros 2019 World Series run due to Tommy John surgery, but since returning to the starting rotation in 2020, McCullers has been the ace that Houston needed.
Last season was a rough campaign for the Astros, with multiple injuries to star players. Perhaps none was more difficult than losing ace Justin Verlander after the season opener to an elbow injury. Fortunately, McCullers stepped up to fill this void. His 2020 “comeback tour” ended with a 3-3 record, a 3.93 earned run average, and a 1.16 walks plus hits per inning pitched in 11 games. Not a bad performance for someone coming off TJ surgery and missing spring training due to Covid. McCuller was shaky at times, however, with a rough nine-run fourth inning versus the Arizona Diamondbacks on August 5th. His 2020 postseason was also difficult, with his ERA jumping to a scary 4.91 and seven home runs coming off the starter. If 2020 was anything to McCullers, it was nothing but a feeling out process to get back into the swing of things.
This season, however, has been a completely different campaign for McCullers. He has matched his career high in strikeouts in a single game with 10 against the Chicago White Sox on June 16th. He set a career high for wins in a season with (currently) 12. Not to mention his ERA: to this point at 3.12 with a WHIP of 1.24. Perhaps one of his most electric outings so far this season came on August 3rd against the Los Angeles Dodgers in which he threw 6.2 innings of shutout baseball and registered three walks and nine strikeouts. McCullers has been on a tear since the trade deadline, and he shows no signs of letting up anytime soon.
McCullers signed a five-year, $85 million contract extension earlier in the season, and he has lived up to expectations thus far. If McCullers can keep his numbers climbing, Astros fans will not have to worry about one spot in the rotation for at least five years.
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