There have been many factors in the Astros’ resurgence — they’re 24-13 since June 18 — but starter Lance McCullers is chief among them. His 2016 debut, on May 13, was a rough one as he gave up five runs and couldn’t complete the fifth inning. He pitched well in seven starts after that, putting up a 3.27 ERA until a blister caused him to miss a couple turns in the rotation.
McCullers returned on July 4 and has caught fire over five starts. He’s yielded exactly one run in four of them and he struck out double-digit batters in three of them. That includes a July 22 start against the Angels in which he pitched into the ninth inning, nearly registering his second career complete game.
McCullers, now 22, was selected by the Astros in the first round — 41st overall — in the 2012 draft. He ascended quickly through the minor leagues and he’s showed why over his first 35 career big league starts. He has a 3.21 ERA while averaging over a strikeout per inning pitched. McCullers’ 3.18 ERA this season is 12th best in the AL among starters who have logged at least 70 innings.
The Astros’ starting rotation has left a lot to be desired this year. Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, for example, has a 4.86 ERA. The rotation in aggregate has put up a 4.23 ERA, only slightly better than the league average (4.43). McCullers has been the backbone of that rotation and he could be the ace in the very near future.
On Tuesday night, the Astros host the Blue Jays. McCullers will take on knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
Also of note during Tuesday’s action:
- Shortstop prospect Orlando Arcia will debut for the Brewers
- Outfield prospect Andrew Benintendi will be in uniform for the Red Sox (but will debut on Wednesday most likely)
- The Rangers’ lineup will include new acquisitions Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Beltran
The rest of Tuesday’s action…
San Francisco Giants (Madison Bumgarner) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Zach Eflin), 7:05 PM EDT
Texas Rangers (Yu Darvish) @ Baltimore Orioles (Dylan Bundy), 7:05 PM EDT
Chicago White Sox (James Shields) @ Detroit Tigers (Anibal Sanchez), 7:10 PM EDT
Kansas City Royals (Yordano Ventura) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Matt Andriese), 7:10 PM EDT
Minnesota Twins (Kyle Gibson) @ Cleveland Indians (Carlos Carrasco), 7:10 PM EDT
New York Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka) @ New York Mets (Jacob deGrom), 7:10 PM EDT
Pittsburgh Pirates (Gerrit Cole) @ Atlanta Braves (Mike Foltynewicz), 7:10 PM EDT
St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) @ Cincinnati Reds (Dan Straily), 7:10 PM EDT
Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez) @ Chicago Cubs (Jason Hammel), 8:05 PM EDT
Los Angeles Dodgers (Brandon McCarthy) @ Colorado Rockies (Jon Gra), 8:40 PM EDT
Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Robbie Ray), 9:40 PM EDT
Oakland Athletics (Sean Manaea) @ Los Angeles Angels (Matt Shoemaker), 10:05 PM EDT
Boston Red Sox (David Price) @ Seattle Mariners (Wade LeBlanc), 10:10 PM EDT
Milwaukee Brewers (Zach Davies) @ San Diego Padres (Luis Perdomo), 10:10 PM EDT