The Jesuit High School star has the biggest start of his career today.
Late this afternoon in the Bronx standing on the mound for the Houston Astros will be the pride of Jesuit High School, Lance McCullers Jr. In the important Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, it will be McCullers who gets the ball because, quite simply, the Astros see him as one of their long-term pitching aces.
Looking back to just this past summer he made the All-Star team with an outstanding 2.69 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. As he entered the month of July, both his ERA and WHIP were among the top five in the Majors. That is the kind of pitching the Astros feel McCullers can provide them this afternoon.
Coming into the game against the Yankees todayMcCullers, who is coming off an injury in the second half of the season has been less than effective. As a matter of fact, he was unimpressive an 8.53 ERA in his final seven starts.
Today’s start might be the most important one of his career in large part because of what is on the line. A good performance would restore the faith of the Astros have in him.
The Houston front office feels that with Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander a strong performance by McCullers gives the Astros a strong enough rotation to win a World Series. He missed so much time with an injury that he is a mystery not only to the Astros but to himself.
For three months this season, he was one of the baseball’s most dominant starting pitchers. That’s the guy the Astros need McCullers to be again.
Yesterday at a press conference in New York the Houston right-hander did not feel the pressure of the moment. It’s a gamble worth taking, and McCullers didn’t shy away from its importance.
“It’s a big game for us,” McCullers said. “It’s a big game for this team. The Yankees have a great home record and are a great team. We’ve done a good job putting ourselves in a situation where we got up 2-0. We knew coming here there was going to be a lot of hard-fought games. It’s a big situation to be able to pitch in and put us within a win of the World Series. Excited to get the ball.”
“I’ve been feeling like myself a lot more lately,” McCullers said. “Just preparation and the way my body has been feeling. I’m pretty excited to be at the best I’ve been and get the ball. I just feel confident with my pitches and my stuff again.”
Meanwhile, so far McCullers has pitched just once in the postseason, a three-inning, a two-run relief appearance against the Red Sox in Game 3 of the AL Division Series.
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