Lance McCullers
Lance McCullers
27-Year-Old PitcherSP
Houston Astros
2021 Fantasy Outlook
The right-hander returned from a lost 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery and largely looked like himself, posting a 3.93 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 56:20 K:BB across 55 innings (11 starts) last season, though he did have a brief stint on the injured list due to a neck procedure. The underlying numbers (24.7 K% and 8.8 BB%) remained largely in line with his career figures, and his fastball velocity continues to sit at 94 mph. Durability is still a question mark despite the largely healthy 2020 campaign, as his career high in the majors remains 128.1 innings from 2018. McCullers is entrenched in Houston's starting rotation and is entering the final year of his contract. He's a safe bet for solid production if he can stay healthy in 2021. Read Past Outlooks
RANKS
#122
ADP
$Signed a one-year, $6.5 million contract with the Astros in January of 2021.
Avoids arbitration with Astros
PHouston Astros
January 15, 2021
McCullers signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal with Houston on Friday to avoid arbitration, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
The 27-year-old returned from a lost 2019 campaign to post a 3.93 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 56:20 K:BB over 55 innings, and he's now under contract for his final season of arbitration eligibility. McCullers should be a staple of Houston's starting rotation again in 2021.
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Pitching Stats
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2020
2019
2018
2017
2020 MLB Game Log
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2019 MLB Game Log
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2018 MLB Game Log
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2017 MLB Game Log
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Pitching Appearances Breakdown
Average Pitch Count
81
Last 10 Games
80
Last 5 Games
83
How many pitches does Lance McCullers generally throw?
 
1-10
 
11-20
 
21-30
 
31-40
 
41-50
 
51-60
 
61-70
 
71-80
 
81-90
 
91-100
 
101-110
 
111-120
 
121+
 
1-10
 
11-20
 
21-30
 
31-40
 
41-50
 
51-60
 
61-70
 
71-80
 
81-90
 
91-100
 
101-110
 
111-120
 
121+
 
1-10
 
11-20
 
21-30
 
31-40
 
41-50
 
51-60
 
61-70
 
71-80
 
81-90
 
91-100
 
101-110
 
111-120
 
121+
What part of the game does Lance McCullers generally pitch?
 
 
 
1st
 
 
 
2nd
 
 
 
3rd
 
 
 
4th
 
 
 
5th
 
 
 
6th
 
 
 
7th
 
 
 
8th
 
 
 
9th
 
Extra
 
 
 
1st
 
 
 
2nd
 
 
 
3rd
 
 
 
4th
 
 
 
5th
 
 
 
6th
 
 
 
7th
 
 
 
8th
 
 
 
9th
 
Extra
 
 
 
1st
 
 
 
2nd
 
 
 
3rd
 
 
 
4th
 
 
 
5th
 
 
 
6th
 
 
 
7th
 
 
 
8th
 
 
 
9th
 
Extra
% Games Reaching Innings Threshold
% Games By Number of Innings Pitched
Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2018
 
 
-28%
BAA vs LHP
2020
 
 
-25%
BAA vs LHP
2019
No Stats
2018
 
 
-29%
BAA vs LHP
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2018vs Left .181 373 114 36 60 22 3 7
Since 2018vs Right .252 376 82 33 83 23 0 10
2020vs Left .190 118 34 9 20 11 2 2
2020vs Right .253 104 20 10 23 7 0 3
2019vs Left 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2019vs Right 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2018vs Left .177 255 80 27 40 11 1 5
2018vs Right .251 272 62 23 60 16 0 7
More Splits View More Split Stats
Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2018
 
 
-48%
ERA at Home
2020
 
 
-84%
ERA at Home
2019
No Stats
2018
 
 
-19%
ERA at Home
ERA WHIP IP W L SV K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Since 2018Home 2.74 0.93 92.0 7 3 0 9.9 2.5 0.5
Since 2018Away 5.26 1.42 87.1 6 6 0 9.1 4.3 1.2
2020Home 1.42 0.76 31.2 3 0 0 9.4 2.0 0.3
2020Away 8.84 1.86 19.1 0 3 0 6.5 5.1 1.9
2019Home 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2019Away 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2018Home 3.43 1.03 60.1 4 3 0 10.1 2.8 0.6
2018Away 4.24 1.29 68.0 6 3 0 9.8 4.1 1.1
More Splits View More Split Stats
Stat Review
How does Lance McCullers compare to other starting pitchers?
This section compares his stats with all starting pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 120 innings)*. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.

* Exit Velocity, Barrels/BBE %, Balls Hit 95+ MPH %, and Spin Rate are benchmarked against 2019 data (min 120 IP). See here for more exit velocity/barrels stats plus an explanation of current limitations with that data set.
  • K/BB
    Strikeout to walk ratio.
  • K/9
    Average strikeouts per nine innings.
  • BB/9
    Average walks per nine innings.
  • HR/9
    Average home runs allowed per nine innings.
  • Fastball
    Average fastball velocity.
  • ERA
    Earned run average. The average earned runs allowed per nine innings.
  • WHIP
    Walks plus hits per inning pitched.
  • BABIP
    Batting average on balls in play. Measures how many balls in play against a pitcher go for hits.
  • GB/FB
    Groundball to flyball ratio. The higher the number, the more likely a pitcher is to induce groundballs.
  • Left On Base
    The percentage of base runners that a pitcher strands on base over the course of a season.
  • Exit Velocity
    The speed of the baseball as it comes off the bat, immediately after a batter makes contact.
  • Barrels/BBE
    The percentage of batted ball events resulting in a Barrel. A Barrel is a batted ball with similar exit velocity and launch angle to past ones that led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage.
  • Spin Rate
    Spin Rate is the rate of spin on a baseball after it is released. It is measured in revolutions per minute (rpm).
  • Balls Hit 95+ MPH
    The percentage of batted balls hit that met or exceeded the 95 MPH threshold.
  • Swinging Strike
    The percentage of pitches that result in a swing and a miss.
K/BB
2.80
 
K/9
9.2
 
BB/9
3.3
 
HR/9
0.8
 
Fastball
93.8 mph
 
ERA
3.93
 
WHIP
1.16
 
BABIP
.282
 
GB/FB
3.26
 
Left On Base
61.4%
 
Exit Velocity
83.0 mph
 
Barrels/BBE
7.1%
 
Spin Rate
2226 rpm
 
Balls Hit 95+ MPH
26.2%
 
Swinging Strike
11.8%
 
Advanced Pitching Stats
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Defensive Stats
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Stats Vs Today's Lineup
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Recent RotoWire Articles Featuring Lance McCullers
The Z Files: Changing Wins to Innings and Saves to Solds
3 days ago
Todd Zola examines the impact of new scoring categories on the pitching side, including the rise in value of top set-up men like Tyler Duffey.
Mound Musings: A Look at Pitching in the AL West
4 days ago
Brad Johnson continues his early-season analysis of pitching across the league with a break down of the American League West where the A’s Jesus Luzardo should be on managers’ lists.
Collette Calls: 2021 NL East Bold Predictions
11 days ago
Jason Collette continues his Bold Predictions series with the National League East. Find out Austin Riley could make a big jump this season.
Baseball Draft Kit: Player Values by Position
18 days ago
Jeff Erickson ranks the players at each position for the 2021 RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Guide.
Collette Calls: 2021 AL West Bold Predictions
48 days ago
Jason Collette kicks off his annual Bold Predictions series with a pair of predictions for each of the five teams in the American League West. Is he in or out on Yuli Gurriel?
Past Fantasy Outlooks
2020
2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
McCullers has not thrown a pitch in the major leagues since October of 2018, but that is not going to stop people from drafting him as they did prior to the 2018 season. We fell in love with McCullers in that 2017 postseason when he was throwing all of the hammer curves and making hitters look silly. He was doing that in 2018 as well before the elbow gave out. The thing that gets overlooked with him is that even before the injury, durability was not a thing for him. His career high in innings was what he put up in 2018. Now, we're looking at a guy who is going to have workload restrictions in 2020 and who may struggle with command, as it is typically the last thing for pitchers to rediscover post TJS. His 2017 final line is absolutely repeatable in 2020, but that is not a good thing because those numbers are barely rosterable in a mixed league. There are safer plays for you in the player pool.
No sense in burying the lede: McCullers will miss all of 2019 recovering from Tommy John surgery. In 2018, McCullers started 22 games for the third time in his four years in the league, throwing a career-high 128.1 innings. He was enjoying a typically solid season, albeit with a slightly elevated walk rate. Then, in August, in an interleague game at Dodger Stadium, McCullers left early after tossing just a couple of warm-up pitches before the fifth. The initial diagnosis was a forearm strain incurred from swinging the bat. He rehabbed for the next several weeks, making it back as a reliever for the last week of the season. In early November, McCullers went under the knife, with an expected 12-to-14 month recovery on tap, setting him up to be ready for spring training in 2020. If you're rebuilding and can stash a possible keeper, McCullers is worth a small bid.
A pair of DL stints due to back issues limited McCullers to 118.2 regular-season innings (22 starts), but his performance when on the field further hinted at ace upside. He struck out 25.8 percent of the batters he faced, issued walks at a 7.8 percent clip and served up just eight homers, with the estimators suggesting McCullers was roughly a run better than his surface numbers would indicate. McCulllers has relied on his devastating curveball as his primary pitch over the past two seasons, throwing it 47.4 percent of the time in 2017 compared to 40.4 percent for his fastball (11.9 percent changeup). That's the Rich Hill approach, but also like Hill, McCullers is an injury risk, having missed time in 2016 due to elbow and shoulder issues. Expecting even 150 innings may be a stretch, but McCullers' contributions in that limited window may be so great that he still finishes as a borderline top-20 starter. The team context -- home park, bullpen, offense -- couldn't be any better.
McCullers' season had two negative bookends of shoulder and elbow DL stints, which no doubt helps explain the 1.54 WHIP he posted in between. The fact that his WHIP shot up from 2015's 1.19 without any change to his 3.22 ERA speaks to how well he pitched in traffic. His 81.4 LOB% tied for the fourth highest with Kyle Hendricks and Danny Duffy among starters (minimum 80 IP). His ability to generate weak contact so consistently (fifth-lowest hard contact rate) and to keep the ball on the ground when in play (third in GB%) while also limiting contact in the first place (his 30 percent strikeout rate was sixth-best) were instrumental in his strand success. Despite the injuries that curbed his workload, there were enough positives from the half-season to be excited about the 23-year-old going forward. Early winter checkups report the elbow -- which was the second of the injuries -- won't delay the start of his 2017. The young flamethrower with a devastating swing-and-miss curve has shown major promise in 206.2 innings as a big leaguer. Buy in bulk.
This is why prospect mavens aren't lying when they say "I don't know" so often when discussing callups. If someone told you a 21-year old who had peaked in High-A (and was crushed there with a 5.47 ERA and 5.2 BB/9) with just 97 IP would blitz through Double-A and thrown 125.7 regular season IP in the majors, you'd have called them crazy. McCullers was so dominant in Double-A (0.56 ERA, 13.5 K/9) and Houston was competitive so they took a shot and it panned out brilliantly. He has the potential to be the right-handed complement to Dallas Keuchel atop the rotation, though it will take some time for that kind of consistency to develop. Walks are his biggest hurdle. He allowed two or more in 68% of his 22 starts (league average: 53%) and had a 4.5 BB/9 in 260 minor league IP. Shoulder soreness has McCullers likely ticketed for a DL stint to start the season, so he should be downgraded somewhat on draft day.
McCullers took the next step in his development with High-A Lancaster last season and predictably endured some growing pains in the hitter-friendly California Leauge. An increase in walks (5.2 BB/9) and home runs allowed (1.67 HR/9) were his main flaws, but he still struck out batters at an elite clip (10.7 K/9). His future remains unclear as a big league starter or closer, but how he pitches in the more neutral environment at Double-A Corpus Christi should help give the Astros a better read on his path to the majors.
McCullers, a second-generation hurler, performed exceptionally well in his first full season in the minors. In 25 appearances (19 starts) for Low-A Quad Cities, McCullers went 6-5 with a 117:49 K:BB over 104.2 innings. His walk rate (4.2 BB/9) was a little high, but he more than made up for it by keeping the ball on the ground (2.00 GO/AO) and inside the park (0.3 HR/9). The 20-year-old's aggressive three-pitch arsenal includes an upper-90s fastball with excellent movement, an above-average slider and changeup. While his future as a big league starter or closer remains uncertain, how McCullers fares this season - most likely in Double-A - should give the Astros a better read regarding his path to the majors.
The Astros drafted McCullers with the No. 41 pick in the 2012 draft, far lower than he was projected pre-draft due to what was perceived to be excessive bonus demands. The Astros were able to meet those demands with a $2.5 million bonus, thanks in part to signing the surprise first overall pick (Carlos Correa) for far less than slot. McCullers gets the ball up near 100 mph, but his arm action is far from easy, putting him at increased risk of injury. With dominant stuff, McCullers projects as a future ace. He'll likely begin the year in High-A, but could wind up in Double-A before all is said and done.
More Fantasy News
Knocked out early in Game 7 loss
PHouston Astros
October 18, 2020
McCullers took the loss in Game 7 of the ALCS against the Rays on Saturday, lasting just 3.2 innings while giving up three runs on four hits, including two homers. He struck out seven while walking one.
ANALYSIS
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Strikes out 11 in loss
PHouston Astros
October 13, 2020
McCullers struck out 11 batters while walking none and allowing just four hits in seven innings in Game 2 of the ALCS against the Rays on Monday, but he also gave up four runs (one earned) and picked up the loss.
ANALYSIS
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Unimpressive in series opener
PHouston Astros
October 6, 2020
McCullers lasted just four innings in Game 1 of the ALDS against Oakland on Monday, giving up five runs (four earned) on nine hits and a walk while striking out five.
ANALYSIS
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Dominant effort wasted
PHouston Astros
September 27, 2020
McCullers pitched four scoreless innings while allowing two hits and two walks Friday against the Rangers. He struck out nine and did not factor into the decision.
ANALYSIS
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On pitch count
PHouston Astros
September 26, 2020
McCullers won't throw more than four or five innings Saturday against Texas, Jake Kaplan of The Athletic reports.
ANALYSIS
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