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#pounditMonday, October 3, 2022

Articles tagged: Lance McCullers

Astros get bad news on star player’s health for potential World Series

Lance McCullers delivers a pitch

The Houston Astros are well-positioned to return to the World Series. However, if they get there, they’ll likely have to take care of business without their ace.

Lance McCullers Jr., who has not pitched in the ALCS due to forearm discomfort, is still not throwing, according to manager Dusty Baker. That likely means he won’t be ready for the World Series if the Astros advance.

With the team needing one win from two home games to make the World Series, the Astros are favored to get there. Losing McCullers for that series would definitely be a big blow. The 28-year-old led Houston pitchers in pretty much every category, pacing the staff with a 3.16 ERA and 185 strikeouts.

Houston starters have had their share of struggles in the ALCS, though they turned it around in Games 4 and 5. The likes of Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia are going to have to step up, both to close out the ALCS and potentially in the World Series.

Photo: Oct 7, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. (43) throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning in game one of the 2021 ALDS at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Astros lose star player to injury for ALCS series against Red Sox?

Lance McCullers delivers a pitch

The Houston Astros are heavy favorites to advance to the World Series heading into their ALCS showdown with the Boston Red Sox, but their pitching staff may be dealt a major blow.

Starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. was removed from Houston’s Game 4 ALDS win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night with what the Astros called forearm stiffness. There has been no official announcement about his status for the ALCS, but MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported on Thursday that the right-hander is not expected to pitch against Boston.

Other MLB reporters have heard the same. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale was told McCullers is expected to miss the ALCS with a strained forearm but could return for the World Series.

Astros general manager James Click said Thursday that the team is awaiting the results of a precautionary MRI. The deadline to set the ALCS roster is Friday morning.

McCullers went 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA during the regular season. He then allowed just one earned run in 10.2 innings in the ALDS against the White Sox. He was expected to start for the Astros in Game 3 of the ALCS and then pitch again in Game 7, if needed.

Photo: Oct 7, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. (43) throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning in game one of the 2021 ALDS at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Lance McCullers was so pumped for Yordan Alvarez’s huge home run

Lance McCullers

Yordan Alvarez blasted a huge home run on Tuesday night, and Lance McCullers loved it.

Alvarez broke open a 1-0 game with a huge 2-run home run for his Houston Astros against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the top of the eighth inning. The clean-up hitter admired his work after the home run, and the dinger left his teammates fire dup.

A replay aired by Spectrum SportsNet LA showed McCullers yelling “let’s f—ing go!” after the big hit.

The home run helped give the Astros a cushion in their 3-0 win. It also helped McCullers get the victory in the outing.

NOTE: A previous version of the story misinterpreted McCullers’ reaction and accused him of being upset with Alvarez. Larry Brown Sports apologizes to McCullers and the Astros for the error and poor judgment.

Here are McCullers’ words about his reaction:

Lance McCullers signs big five-year contract extension with Astros

Lance McCullers Jr

With their pitching staff in flux, the Houston Astros have locked down a player they hope will be one of their anchors for years to come.

As first reported by Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston, starting pitcher Lance McCullers has agreed to a five-year contract extension. ESPN’s Jeff Passan added that the deal will be worth $85 million.

That’s a nice payday for McCullers, who reestablished himself as a quality starter in 2020 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The 27-year-old went 3-3 with a 3.93 ERA in 11 starts, striking out 56 batters in 55 innings. Houston will be expecting even better numbers over the course of this contract. He’s also become something of a team leader in the last year.

McCullers would have been a free agent at the end of the 2021 season. The contract kicks in, so he’ll be with Houston through 2026.

Astros players trash report claiming team is out for revenge against ‘haters’

Lance McCullers Jr

Are the Houston Astros being motivated by revenge against their critics? That’s not what their players are saying.

On Wednesday, SNY’s Andy Martino reported that Astros players were saying behind the scenes that they were being motivated by “haters” who were critical of them in light of the team’s sign-stealing scheme. The report said that they were “very into the idea of avenging themselves” against teams like the Yankees and Dodgers who had been critical.

Two Houston players — pitcher Lance McCullers and outfielder Josh Reddick — publicly took issue with Martino’s reporting.

It’s not often that players respond so directly to reporting about them. Maybe it’s not true, or maybe they actually don’t want that perception going around.

One thing the Astros are embracing is the perception of themselves as underdogs. It’s certainly true that plenty are rooting for them to lose. Whether they care about that or not is an entirely different question.

Joe Kelly’s wife hits back at Lance McCullers

Joe Kelly

The feud between Joe Kelly and Lance McCullers is getting a little personal.

The war of words between the two pitchers began last week when Kelly, the Los Angeles Dodgers righty, shaded the Houston Astros over their cheating scandal and for then allowing their coaches to take the fall. That prompted McCullers, the Astros right-hander, to fire right back at Kelly, blasting him for being misinformed and also for being a member of the 2018 Boston Red Sox team that was investigated for cheating as well.

On Wednesday, it was Kelly’s wife Ashley’s turn to respond. In a post to her Instagram Story, Ashley scoffed at the idea that her husband was afraid of Astros slugger Carlos Correa, which McCullers had also alluded to.

“You, McMuffin,” she wrote. “Anyone who knows or has played with the ‘skinny motherf–ker” would know that he would attempt to take on a 300lb offensive lineman knowing that he would lose. He’s not afraid of anyone … especially your pal (who honestly has a nice swing).

Ashley then concluded her remarks by wishing McCullers the best of luck.

Calling McCullers “McMuffin” has to be the best part of the post. In any case though, it is pretty clear that players around the league are on Kelly’s side in this ongoing feud with the Astros.

The Houston Astros are confirmed cheaters and deserve an asterisk. Send that message by wearing our Houston Asterisks T-shirt! You can buy it here:

Lance McCullers fires back at Joe Kelly’s Astros criticisms

Lance McCullers Jr

The war of words between Joe Kelly and Houston Astros players continues unabated.

Kelly recently blasted the Astros in an appearance on “The Big Swing” podcast with teammate Ross Stripling, criticizing Houston’s players for letting coaches take the fall for their sign-stealing system. Kelly said that bothered him more than the cheating itself.

Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. appeared on Jayson Stark’s “Starkville” podcast and criticized Kelly, both for his characterization of the Astros as snitches, and for calling them out despite being a member of the 2018 Boston Red Sox team that was also accused of stealing signs electronically.

McCullers said he and his teammates never asked for immunity, and that MLB offered it from the outset in exchange for honest testimony.

“These (opposing) players have no idea what this investigation was like. They have no idea the lengths that the MLB went to beyond speaking to players.” McCullers told Stark. “Actually, speaking to players was probably the least part of their whole investigation. I can’t go into it because I don’t know how much I am or am not allowed to say. But I’ll say that … the notion that, oh, players negotiated immunity, players then were interviewed and rolled on everyone just to save themselves, isn’t the case. And that’s as much as I can say. That’s not what happened. That’s not how this went down. So if that’s what people are upset about, then I guess we can all move on because that’s not how it happened.”

McCullers also said that the only “snitch” was “the person who spoke to ‘The Athletic,'” a shot at former teammate Mike Fiers.

The Astros pitcher was also critical of Kelly for going after the Astros when he was not a member of the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers team that lost the World Series to Houston, as well as the fact that Kelly’s 2018 Red Sox were also investigated and punished for electronically stealing signs.

“I made the (statement) that Joe wasn’t on that (2017 Dodgers) team (that lost to Houston in the World Series). Joe was actually on a different team that was also investigated for the same thing,” McCullers said of the 2018 Boston team. “And their (video-room operator was) penalized. And he was on that team. So baseball got it right? I don’t know.”

While MLB did find that there were rules violations committed by the 2018 Red Sox, they were less severe than what the 2017 Astros did, and MLB’s report absolved the majority of Boston’s players.

McCullers has openly spoken out against Kelly regarding the Dodgers pitcher’s role in the late July incident between the two teams. He appears ready to continue doing so as long as Kelly keeps speaking out.

The Houston Astros are confirmed cheaters and deserve an asterisk. Send that message by wearing our Houston Asterisks T-shirt! You can buy it here:

Lance McCullers angered by Diamondbacks opening Chase Field roof mid-game

Lance McCullers Jr

Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers thought there was some foul play involved in the Arizona Diamondbacks opening the Chase Field roof during the middle of Wednesday’s game.

McCullers had thrown three perfect innings against the Diamondbacks before the Chase Field roof opened at the start of the fourth inning. The Astros pitcher promptly collapsed as Arizona scored nine runs in the bottom of the fourth to chase McCullers, with the first seven hitters of the frame reaching base.

The pitcher said the decision to open the roof in the middle of the game was “a–,” and seemed to blame the open roof for turning what he felt would be routine outs into extra base hits.

“There were some routine balls that kind of carried up there and got deep,” McCullers said, via Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. “It got very dry. I was trying to lick my fingers and was warned I couldn’t do that — obviously, COVID. I was having a hard time there in the fourth. It’s not an excuse. It just is what it is. Balls were being hit that were routine popups and they were landing off walls.”

There’s no conspiracy here, though. As Piecoro noted, the Diamondbacks had planned to open the roof before the fourth inning before the game started, so the move to do so should not have come as a surprise.

McCullers has certainly had his share of frustrations this season already. He may have a point about whether it’s helpful or not to change stadium dynamics mid-game, but there’s more to a nine-run inning than bad luck. Plus, he’s unlikely to receive much sympathy given his association with the Astros.

Lance McCullers critical of ‘unprofessional’ Joe Kelly

Lance McCullers Jr

Lance McCullers Jr. was critical of Joe Kelly for throwing at several Houston Astros players on Tuesday night.

Kelly threw a pitch behind Alex Bregman’s head and also taunted Carlos Correa during the bottom of the sixth inning of the Dodgers’ 5-2 win.

Though Kelly tried to deny throwing at Houston’s players intentionally, it was pretty obvious that the Dodgers reliever was trying to send a message to the Astros for cheating by illegally relaying stolen signs in real-time via technology in 2017. Houston beat the Dodgers in the World Series that year; Kelly was a member of the Boston Red Sox that season.

McCullers, who has spent his entire career with the Astros, called Kelly’s actions “unprofessional”.

“Joe Kelly threw a ball behind Bregman’s head on 3-0 on purpose,” McCullers said Wednesday, via ESPN Alden Gonzalez. “Not only did he take it upon himself to send a message, but he wasn’t even part of the team during that [2017] season. We knew coming into the game that he likes to go off script. It is what it is. It was done unprofessionally. What he did after he punched out Correa was unprofessional. Running into the dugout was unprofessional. So it is what it is. We’re here to play baseball. We just wanna win. That’s it.”

MLB on Wednesday announced an 8-game suspension for Kelly and one-game suspension for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. Many MLB players have already come to Kelly’s defense and sounded off about the suspension. The suspension carries even more weight because eight games represents 13.3 percent of a 60-game season.

Astros P Lance McCullers cleared to throw off ground in recovery

Lance McCullers

Lance McCullers is making progress in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

Houston Astros reporter Alyson Footer reported on Tuesday that McCullers has been cleared to start throwing.

The 25-year-old pitcher underwent the reconstructive surgery in November and will miss all of the 2019 season.

McCullers has been a big part of the Astros’ recent success. He has gone 29-22 with a 3.67 ERA in 453.2 innings during his career. He was an All-Star in 2017, the year the team won the World Series. He has been outstanding in the postseason, posting a 2.53 ERA in 32 innings.