The Houston Astros‘ bid to regain the Commissioners Trophy, in 2019, has already suffered a setback. Right-handed pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. will miss the entirety of next season as he will require Tommy John surgery.
The Astros shared the announcement of McCullers’ surgery on Twitter:
Official release: Lance McCullers Jr. underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow today, President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Jeff Luhnow announced. https://t.co/aVtUc2vr8D
— Houston Astros (@astros) November 7, 2018
After dealing with elbow issues in his pitching arm towards the end of the 2018 season, McCullers’ chances of featuring for Houston next year are very slim. The surgery will see him miss the year, but, if he doesn’t have the surgery, he could play. The former is looking most probable, for now.
The loss of McCullers would leave the Astros’ immaculate pitching staff with a drawback. In 2018, McCullers made up a formidable rotation along with the likes of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, and Dallas Keuchel. The season saw McCullers continuing to produce for the Astros. He finished the year 10-6, with a solid 3.86 ERA. His WHIP of 1.169 was the lowest of his career, as he improved in many dimensions of the game. All in all, he had a stellar year.
He remained injury free until early August. On the fifth of August, he was placed on the disabled list as he was bothered by discomfort in his right elbow. This seems to be an underlying problem – leading to the need for surgery now. The 2017 All-Star missed the rest of August and the best part of September. He was recalled on September 24th, just before the completion of the regular season.
Although McCullers missed time due to injury late in the season, he helped the Astros to a 103-win year. However, they weren’t able to win another championship. Houston emphatically swept the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS but the Boston Red Sox, who went on to become 2018 World Champions, beat them 4-1, in the ALCS.
McCullers was able to return to action in time to add to the Astros’ postseason efforts. The Astros went with the rest of their regular season rotation, in terms of their postseason starters. Therefore, McCullers played a part out of the bullpen. In the ALDS, he featured in two games, pitching two innings and gave up just two hits. In the ALCS, he pitched three innings, in total. He gave up two hits, allowed two base-on-balls along with allowing two runs to score, one of which was earned, as he struck out four opponents, over three appearances.
McCullers looks likely to miss what would be his fifth season in the majors. Tommy John is a surgery which is tough on any ballplayer. It’ll be a long comeback process as he recovers, to get back onto this Astros pitching staff. However, at the young age of 25, the right-hander has shown his worth in this league and for Houston. It’s a shame that he faces this kind of setback at this time of his career, but, he has the skillset to make a big comeback in 2020. His contract structure sees him up for arbitration over the next three seasons. McCullers is a renowned pitcher and when he comes back his growth in the league will continue as it has done.
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