Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Monday that Lance McCullers could need surgery on his right elbow.
McCullers pitched fantastically when healthy last season, but on August 4 he suffered what was then termed a “forearm strain” and hit the disabled list, missing the rest of August and most of September. When he returned he was limited to bullpen duty and told the press he was “working through some things.”
Luhnow now admits that those “things” are in his elbow, not his forearm, and that could mean surgery that will cost him his entire 2019 season.
In 2018 McCullers tossed a career-high 128.1 innings in 22 starts and three relief appearances. His strikeout rate held steady at ten for every nine innings pitched and he allowed fewer hits per nine, which offset a slight uptick in his walk rate. The development of his changeup this season complemented his signature curve quite well, and looked to elevate him from good to great.
Unfortunately, injury may sidetrack his career. Maybe even for a year. We won’t know for sure until later this week, most likely.
Mariners starter Félix Hernández pitched well enough for a win on Wednesday afternoon, but Padres starter Chris Paddack was just a little bit better. Hernández allowed one run on three hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in the Mariners’ 1-0 loss. Paddack tossed seven scoreless innings on one hit and one walk with nine strikeouts.
With eight strikeouts on the day, Hernández passed Don Drysdale to move into 36th place on Major League Baseball’s all-time strikeouts leaderboard at 2,488. Max Scherzer currently sits in 35th place at 2,493. Christy Mathewson is Hernández’s next target at 2,507.
On the season, Hernández is now 1-2 with a 3.91 ERA and a 21/3 K/BB ratio across 25 1/3 innings. The 33-year-old had a rough 2017 and ’18, but the first-place Mariners are hoping he has something left in the tank. Hernández is earning $27 million this season and can become a free agent after the season.