Lance McCullers Jr.
Lance McCullers in 2017.jpg
McCullers with the Houston Astros in 2017
Houston Astros – No. 43
Pitcher
Born: (1993-10-02) October 2, 1993 (age 28)
Tampa, Florida
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
MLB debut
May 18, 2015, for the Houston Astros
MLB statistics
(through September 9, 2022)
Win–loss record48–31
Earned run average3.51
Strikeouts776
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Lance Graye McCullers Jr. (born October 2, 1993) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball (MLB). The Astros selected McCullers in the first round of the 2012 MLB draft. He made his MLB debut in 2015, and was an All-Star in 2017.

High school

McCullers graduated from Jesuit High School in Tampa, Florida. He was named the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year in 2012.[1]

Professional baseball career

Draft and minor leagues

2012–15

The Houston Astros selected McCullers in the first round, with the 41st overall selection, of the 2012 Major League Baseball (MLB) draft. He signed with the Astros, receiving a $2.5 million bonus.

McCullers pitched for the Quad Cities River Bandits of the Class A Midwest League in 2013, winning the Midwest League championship.[2]

For the 2014 season, McCullers was promoted to the Lancaster JetHawks of the Class A-Advanced California League. The JetHawks went on to become the 2014 California League champions after beating the Northern Division champion Visalia Rawhide.[citation needed]

McCullers began the 2015 season with the Corpus Christi Hooks of the Class AA Texas League. The Astros promoted him to the Fresno Grizzlies of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League on May 14, and, on the following day, announced that he would make his major league debut on May 18.[3]

Houston Astros

Early major league career (2015–16)

In his major league debut, McCullers allowed one run, three walks and three hits while striking out five batters in 4+23 innings and took a no-decision in the Astros' 2–1 loss to the Oakland Athletics.[4] McCullers threw his first career complete game against the Baltimore Orioles on June 3, 2015. He remained in the Astros rotation and finished with 22 starts.

McCullers began the 2016 season on the disabled list with shoulder soreness.[5] He finished the season 6–5 in 14 starts.

World Series championship (2017)

The Astros assigned McCullers to the starting rotation at the outset of 2017 season. From May 6–23, he delivered 22 scoreless innings, which among Astros pitchers, was the longest scoreless inning streak since Roy Oswalt completed 32 from August 27 through September 11, 2008. In that same span, McCullers also became the first Astros pitcher since Nolan Ryan in 1984 to allow no earned runs over at least five innings pitched in each of four consecutive appearances.[6]

For the month of May, McCullers won his first American League (AL) Pitcher of the Month Award. He was credited with a 4–0 record over six starts. He permitted an AL-leading 0.99 earned run average (ERA), 21 hits, and a .164 batting average against (BAA) with 37 strikeouts. He also ranked second in wins, third in BAA, and tied for fifth in strikeouts.[6]

The Astros placed McCullers on the disabled list (DL) due to a back injury, and he returned on June 24.[7] He was selected to the All-Star Game,[8] finishing the first half of the season with a record of 7–2 and 106 strikeouts. With a recurring back injury, McCullers returned to the DL after July 30, after posting a 7.45 ERA and 1–5 record in between DL stints.[7]

On October 21, 2017, McCullers pitched four scoreless innings in relief and earned his first career save in a 4–0 win over the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the ALCS. This sent the Astros to their first World Series since 2005 to face the Los Angeles Dodgers.[9] In a key moment in this game, after losing command and walking a batter, he threw 24 consecutive curveballs to retire the last six Yankees in a row.[10] In the World Series, McCullers drew the start in Game 3[11] and again in Game 7.[12] The Astros won the Series in the seventh game for the first title in franchise history.[13]

2018–20

McCullers began the 2018 season in the rotation, going 10–6 through 22 starts before landing on the disabled list on August 5 with discomfort in his right elbow.[14] After missing more than a month because of the injury, he returned towards the last two weeks of the regular season in a bullpen role, appearing in three games. He threw a curve 47.4% of the time, tops in MLB.[15]

On November 6, 2018, McCullers underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow and was ruled out for the entire 2019 baseball season.[16] McCullers completed his rehab from Tommy John surgery in early November 2019.[17]

In 2020, McCullers was 3–3 with a 3.93 ERA. He pitched 55 innings with 56 strikeouts in 11 starts.[18]

2021

On March 24, 2021, McCullers and the Astros agreed to a five-year, $85 million contract extension that included a $3.5 million signing bonus.[19] During the 2021 season, he added a sweeping slider to his pitches.[20] McCullers finished the 2021 season with a 13–5 record, a 3.16 ERA, and 185 strikeouts in 162+13 innings over 28 starts. He led the major leagues with 76 walks and 4.21 walks per 9 innings.[21] He established new career highs or career bests to that point in his career in numerous categories, including in ERA, games won, games started, strikeouts, innings pitched, batters faced (684), hits per nine innings allowed (H/9, 6.8), and home runs per nine innings (HR/9, 0.7). Among qualified pitchers, he led the AL in H/9 and HR/9, and ranked second in ERA.[22]

Following the regular season, the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) named McCullers the Astros' team Pitcher of the Year, his first such award.[23]

During the 2021 ALDS versus the Chicago White Sox, McCullers was removed from Game 4 due to a right forearm injury.[24] He was unable to participate in the remainder of the playoffs, in the which the Astros reached the World Series, and were defeated by the Atlanta Braves in six games.

2022

Still recovering from the forearm injury, diagnosed a right flexor tendon strain, McCullers was unable to throw in spring training and missed the start of the 2022 season.[25] On August 13, McCullers made his season debut and earned the win after hurling six shutout innings versus the Oakland Athletics. He allowed two hits, walked four, and struck out five.[26] McCullers went 5+23 innings on September 2 to continue an impressive comeback, allowing two runs, six hits, four walks and striking out seven to earn the win in a 4–2 final versus Los Angeles.[27]

Personal life

His father, Lance McCullers, played in Major League Baseball from 1985 to 1992.[28]

McCullers is a Roman Catholic and spoke about his faith in a video for the Astros' Faith and Family Night in 2015.[29] McCullers married longtime girlfriend Kara Kilfoile in December 2015. Their first child, a daughter, was born in December 2019.[30] In 2016, the Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation, a non-profit organization, was established by McCullers and his family to advocate for stray and homeless animals.[31]

See also

References

  1. ^ Konecky, Chad. "McCullers named National Baseball POY". Espn.go.com. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
  2. ^ "River Bandits sweep Midwest League championship". MLB.com. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  3. ^ "Heralded pitching prospect Lance McCullers to make Astros' debut Monday". Ultimate Astros. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  4. ^ "McCullers: Debut achieved 'lifelong dream'". Houston Astros. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  5. ^ Reese, Josh (April 1, 2016). "MLB Opening Day 2016: Astros' Lance McCullers injury update". The Crawfish Boxes. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  6. ^ a b McIlvoy, Randy (June 2, 2017). "Astros' Correa, McCullers named AL Player, Pitcher of Month for May". KPRC-TV Houston. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  7. ^ a b DuBose, Ben (August 20, 2017). "Correa, McCullers closer to rejoining Astros". MLB.com. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  8. ^ KHOU.com and CBS Sports (July 2, 2017). "5 Astros chosen for MLB American League All-Star team". KHOU.com. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  9. ^ Healey, Tim (October 22, 2017). "Astros' Lance McCullers remembers Jose Fernandez while pitching team to World Series". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  10. ^ Woo, Jeremy. "Lance McCullers Threw 24 Straight Curveballs to Send the Astros to the World Series". Retrieved August 5, 2021.
  11. ^ "Lance McCullers to start Game 3 of World Series for Astros". Houston Chronicle. October 25, 2017. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  12. ^ Blum, Ronald (November 1, 2017). "Dodgers force World Series Game 7 vs. Astros". Toronto Star. Associated Press. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  13. ^ McTaggart, Brian; Gurnick, Ken (November 2, 2017). "Houston Strongest! Astros rule the World". MLB.com. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  14. ^ McTaggart, Brian (August 5, 2018). "Lance McCullers injured, placed on DL". MLB.com. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  15. ^ "Statcast Pitch Arsenals Leaderboard | baseballsavant.com". Baseballsavant.mlb.com. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  16. ^ "Lance McCullers Jr has Tommy John surgery". MLB. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  17. ^ Hill, Climbing Tal's (November 6, 2019). "#Astros: Lance McCullers Jr. says rehab is complete (via @phin_tx)https://climbingtalshill.com/2019/11/06/astros-lance-mccullers-jr-rehab-complete/ …". @astrosCTH. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  18. ^ "Lance McCullers Jr. Stats". Baseball-Reference.com.
  19. ^ Byrne, Connor (March 26, 2021). "Astros sign Lance McCullers Jr. to five-year extension". MLB Trade Rumors. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
  20. ^ Ben Midzee4 (April 11, 2021). "Why Lance McCullers Jr's brand new slider got him paid". ApolloHou. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
  21. ^ "Major League Leaderboards » 2021 » Pitchers » Dashboard &#124". FanGraphs Baseball. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  22. ^ "Lance McCullers Jr. stats". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
  23. ^ Astros Press Release (October 5, 2021). "Houston BBWAA announces Astros award winners". MLB.com. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
  24. ^ Young, Matt (October 21, 2021). "Injury to Astros' ace Lance McCullers still being examined, no decision yet: The Astros may be without their best starting pitcher against the Red Sox". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved April 10, 2022.
  25. ^ Young, Matt (March 15, 2022). "Lance McCullers addresses Astros fans' concerns about his injury: The Houston pitcher, who will miss the start of the season, talked to fans on Twitter about his arm, and then addressed the media". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved April 10, 2022.
  26. ^ "McCullers goes 6 shutout innings in return, Astros down A's". ESPN.com. Associated Press. August 13, 2022. Retrieved August 14, 2022.
  27. ^ "McCullers sharp again, pitches into 6th as Astros top Angels". ESPN.com. Associated Press. September 2, 2022. Retrieved September 3, 2022.
  28. ^ "McCullers has big arm, big league bloodline". Mlb.mlb.com. May 26, 2012. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
  29. ^ "Lance McCullers on faith".
  30. ^ "McCullers Jr. refuses to waste shot in majors". tbo. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  31. ^ Cohn, Brian (October 23, 2019). "Lance McCullers: The Hero Houston Deserves On & Off the Field". The Crawfish Boxes. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
Awards and achievements Preceded byDallas Keuchel American League Pitcher of the Month May 2017 Succeeded byCorey Kluber