HOUSTON – The Houston Astros say they trust their pitchers to reach the World Series, after learning their best starter Lance McCullers Jr. will be out of the Boston Red Sox and maybe even the Fall Classic.
McCullers Jr. suffered a forearm muscle injury, but no structural damage, and there is a chance that if they make it through the AL Championship Series it will be available, Astros manager Dusty Baker said.
“Touching wood, there is no major damage and we want to take extreme precautions,” Baker said at a press conference, prior to Game 1 of the series against the Red Sox. “Just two or three years ago, he had Tommy John surgery (…) That’s good news. Great news. I hope it heals soon. But we can’t confirm yet whether he will be in the World Series or not. So we can only wait ”.
McCullers Jr. was 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA in the regular season. In the playoffs his dominance grew even more, already as the definitive number one of the Astros rotation, with 1-0 and 0.86 in two starts in the Divisional Series against the Chicago White Sox; in the second was when he felt his forearm and had to leave in the fourth inning.
“It looks good,” Baker said in reference to her mood. “I’m sure it’s killing him on the inside, but on the outside he looks good. He is a mature guy and also a team player. He’s going to pass on his knowledge and experience to the young players and to some of the guys who have never been here (Championship Series). ”
“He has been here many, many times and it is not that he is a coach yet, but he is helping as if he was a coach,” he added.
McCullers Jr. has been part of this generation of Astros reaching their fifth consecutive Championship Series and is one of only five players still on the roster who were World Series champions in 2017.
The Astros opened the first game of the series against Boston with Framber Valdez and have Luis García announced for the second; both at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
“Those guys can,” considered shortstop Carlos Correa. “They have shown all season and that is why they are here. We all trust them and that they will be able to move us forward. It’s a sadness that Lance is not with us, especially because of him, who is a competitor. But precisely because of him, we have to continue and try to win this series. “
Before the first of the Championship Series, Valdez started two games against the Red Sox in the just-concluded regular season. His record was 2-0 with a 1.26 ERA and 18 strikeouts combined.
Before Friday, the 27-year-old Valdez had four postseason starts, including one in the Division Series, when he allowed seven hits in 4 1/3 innings; four runs, six strikeouts and a walk.
“Our guys can pitch,” said third baseman Alex Bregman. “This is a team that has gone through a lot of adversity together and we have overcome it. This time, it will be the same ”.