Making just his fourth career start Wednesday night, 21-year-old Astros right-hander Lance McCullers racked up 11 strikeouts with zero walks and allowed one run in a complete-game win over the Orioles.
In doing so at 21 years and 244 days old McCullers became the youngest pitcher with double-digit strikeouts in a complete game since Kerry Wood’s incredible 20-strikeout game in 1998.
McCullers was the Astros’ “other” first-round pick in the 2012 draft that also saw them snag baseball’s best prospect, Carlos Correa, with the No. 1 pick. He has a 29/6 K/BB ratio in 24 innings since being promoted to the big leagues on May 18 following a dominant stretch at Double-A in which he struck out 43 batters in 29 innings with a 0.62 ERA.
Houston has the AL’s best record at 34-20 and the young, high-upside talent isn’t even done arriving yet.
Last week the Pittsburgh Pirates released Francisco Cervelli. Yesterday he was signed by the Braves. Atlanta gave him the start behind the plate and he went 3-for-5 with two doubles and three runs driven in to help his new team to victory over the Mets. Welcome to Atlanta, Frankie.
Cervelli had been rehabbing from a concussion and hadn’t seen big league action since late May. He was ready to come back, though, and the Pirates — who are going nowhere — gave him his release so that he might join a contender for the stretch run.
The performance he put up last night, obviously will not be the norm for him going forward. But it’s also the case that his early 2019 batting line of .193/.279/.248 is not indicative of his talent level either. He posted an .809 OPS (122 OPS+) in 2018, and if he gives Atlanta anything even approaching his usual production it’ll help stabilize a shaky catching situation for the Braves.