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.
Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.
Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.