The Astros already have their number one starter, Dallas Keuchel, on the disabled list. Now their number two guys is there too: Houston has placed Lance McCullers on the 10-day DL with lower back discomfort revealed during a between starts throwing session.
The move is retroactive to June 9. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said that, at the moment, he does not expect McCullers’ absence to be long. He could be activated again a week from today.
McCullers is in the midst of a fantastic season. He’s 6-1 with a 2.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 89/23 in 76.2 innings. Opposing batters are hitting a mere .207 off of him and he has a 1.06 WHIP.
Houston has the best record in baseball and holds a 12 game lead over the second place Texas Rangers, so they can weather the loss of a starter or two for spell. But really, they need to not make a habit of having their top pitchers on the DL.
Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.
Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.
Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.
As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.