Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. is about to start a minor league rehab task on Friday, reviews Mark Berman of Fox 26 (Twitter link). He’s scheduled to throw two innings for Double-A Corpus Christi.
Pitchers can spend as much as 30 days on rehab assignments, so the beginning of his work suggests an early-mid August timetable for his return to the massive leagues if all goes as anticipated. McCullers has but to pitch this yr as he’s rehabbed from the flexor tendon forearm pressure that lower quick his 2021 postseason. Whereas the membership initially expressed hope he’d be prepared for Opening Day, McCullers’ offseason rehab didn’t progress as shortly as anticipated. He returned to mound work by late Might and has spent the previous six weeks steadily constructing again in the direction of recreation readiness.
Getting McCullers again in mid-August ought to afford him time to spherical into form for the postseason. The Astros lead the Mariners by 9 video games within the AL West, they usually’re even additional away from the Twins for the league’s #2 seed (and related first-round bye). They’re a digital playoff lock, and a wholesome McCullers will solely add to the crew’s embarrassment of riches on the mound. The suitable-hander was arguably the crew’s greatest pitcher final yr, tossing 162 1/3 innings of three.16 ERA ball whereas punching out 27% of opponents.
Most groups would battle to beat the lack of an arm of that caliber, however the Astros have sported one among baseball’s high rotations. Houston’s beginning employees trails solely the Yankees in ERA (3.15) and the Padres in innings pitched (522 2/3). They’re seventh in strikeout charge (23.9%) and eleventh in stroll proportion (7%). Except for McCullers, Houston’s rotation has stayed principally wholesome. Jake Odorizzi missed round six weeks with a heel damage, however every of Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Luis Garcia and José Urquidy has averted the injured record. That sextet has mixed to make the entire crew’s begins, and Urquidy is the one member of the group with an ERA north of three.76.
If everybody stays wholesome, the Astros might take into account kicking any of Odorizzi, Javier or Urquidy into reduction. Houston’s bullpen has been equally wonderful, main baseball with a 2.66 ERA. Their robust division lead ought to enable supervisor Dusty Baker to control the innings totals for McCullers and Verlander (who missed all of final season recovering from Tommy John surgical procedure) to make sure they hit the postseason at peak type.