Lance McCullers
Lance McCullers
25-Year-Old PitcherSP
Houston Astros
60-Day IL
Injury Elbow
Est. Return 2/1/2020
2019 Fantasy Outlook
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. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
#747
ADP
Add To Watchlist
$Signed a one-year, $4.1 million contract with the Astros in January of 2019, avoiding arbitration.
Transferred to 60-day IL
PHouston Astros
Elbow
June 9, 2019
The Astros transferred McCullers (elbow) to the 60-day injured list Sunday, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.
ANALYSIS
The Astros determined back in November that McCullers wouldn't pitch in 2019 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, so the transaction won't affect his recovery timeline. The move merely opens up a spot on the 40-man roster for top prospect Yordan Alvarez, who was promoted from Triple-A Round Rock ahead of Sunday's game against the Orioles.
Read More News
Pitching Stats
Loading Pitching Stats...
MLB Game Log
Calculate Stats Over Time
Just click on any two dates.
Scoring
FanDuel
DraftKings
Yahoo DFS
FantasyDraft
Head2Head
Loading Pitching Game Log...
Minor League Game Log
Calculate Stats Over Time
Just click on any two dates.
Loading Minor League Pitching Game Log...
Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2017
 
 
-22%
BAA vs LHP
2019
No Stats
2018
 
 
-29%
BAA vs LHP
2017
 
 
-13%
BAA vs LHP
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2017vs Left .202 474 140 40 86 21 1 7
Since 2017vs Right .258 565 134 50 128 34 2 13
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
2017vs Left .231 219 60 13 46 10 0 2
2017vs Right .264 293 72 27 68 18 2 6
More Splits View More Split Stats
Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2017
 
 
-31%
ERA at Home
2019
No Stats
2018
 
 
-19%
ERA at Home
2017
 
 
-41%
ERA at Home
ERA WHIP IP W L SV K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Since 2017Home 3.25 1.09 110.2 8 3 0 10.7 2.9 0.7
Since 2017Away 4.69 1.34 136.1 9 7 0 9.4 3.6 0.7
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
2017Home 3.04 1.17 50.1 4 0 0 11.3 3.0 0.9
2017Away 5.14 1.39 68.1 3 4 0 9.1 3.0 0.4
More Splits View More Split Stats
Advanced Pitching Stats
Loading Advanced Pitching Stats...
Defensive Stats
Loading MLB Defensive Stats...
Stats Vs Today's Lineup
Want more matchup stats?
Loading Matchup Stats...
Astros Depth Chart
Our full team depth charts are reserved for RotoWire subscribers.
Subscribe Now
Recent RotoWire Articles Featuring Lance McCullers
Mound Musings: AL West Draft Day Targets
116 days ago
Brad Johnson completes deep dive into each divisions this week with a look at the American League West, where in Seattle, Felix Hernandez might be in the twilight of his career.
Collette Calls: NL Central Bold Predictions
151 days ago
Jason Collette moves on to the NL Central for more bold predictions. Find out why he's not on the Willson Contreras bandwagon.
MLB Barometer: Early Risers -- Pitchers
174 days ago
With three openings in the Houston rotation, Forrest Whitley's path to a 2019 debut is clear. Derek VanRiper looks at Whitley and other early draft-season risers on the mound.
AL FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week
295 days ago
Erik Siegrist looks at the last set of roster moves and role shifts in the AL and wonders how much rust Aaron Judge will be able to shake off before the end of the regular season.
MLB Barometer: Breaking the Bubble
318 days ago
Derek VanRiper looks over the league's biggest risers -- like Colorado's German Marquez -- and fallers with September call-ups looming.
Past Fantasy Outlooks
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
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
Cleared to throw
PHouston Astros
Elbow
April 2, 2019
McCullers (elbow) was cleared to throw and did so Tuesday, Alyson Footer of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Subscribe now to instantly reveal our take on this news.
Formally moves to IL
PHouston Astros
Elbow
March 28, 2019
The Astros placed McCullers (elbow) on the 10-day injured list Thursday, Jake Kaplan of The Athletic reports.
ANALYSIS
Subscribe now to instantly reveal our take on this news.
No drama on deadline day
PHouston Astros
Elbow
January 11, 2019
McCullers (elbow) agreed to a one-year, $4.1 million deal with the Astros, avoiding arbitration, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Subscribe now to instantly reveal our take on this news.
Out for season following Tommy John surgery
PHouston Astros
Elbow
November 6, 2018
McCullers underwent Tommy John surgery Tuesday and will miss the entire 2019 season, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.
ANALYSIS
Subscribe now to instantly reveal our take on this news.
Surgery not ruled out
PHouston Astros
Elbow
November 6, 2018
General manager Jeff Luhnow said Monday that McCullers could require surgery to address a lingering elbow injury, which would sideline the right-hander for the entire 2019 season, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.
ANALYSIS
Subscribe now to instantly reveal our take on this news.