Lance McCullers

Lance McCullers

28-Year-Old PitcherSP
Houston Astros
Day-To-Day
Injury Forearm
2022 Fantasy Outlook
McCullers came into 2021 with a reputation of having as much upside as he had durability problems, and he strengthened his argument in both camps by the end of the season. He finished the season with a career-best total in innings, had the lowest hits per nine in the AL, finished second in ERA, fourth in K/9 and eighth in WHIP. His walk rate was truly the only blemish on what was the strongest season of his career. Unfortunately, his forearm started barking during the ALDS and he missed the rest of the season, leaving us with a lasting memory of concern for 2022. The way the season closed is certainly going to be an issue the earlier you draft, and any work stoppage in camp likely further delays any finality on the status of his arm for the season. His 2022 outlook is much like his 2021 outlook -- high risk and high reward. Rostering McCullers requires other staff anchors and he should not be drafted as more than a SP3. Read Past Outlooks
RANKS
$Signed a five-year, $85 million contract extension with the Astros in March of 2021.
Still not throwing
PHouston Astros
Forearm
December 5, 2021
McCullers (forearm) will start throwing in "about a month," Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.
ANALYSIS
McCullers suffered the injury to his throwing arm in mid-October and was unable to pitch in the the ALCS or World Series. In positive news, McCullers recently had an MRI that came back clean. Even so, it will be worth monitoring how McCullers is able to progress prior to spring training, which may dictate whether he is able to ramp up in time to begin the season on the mound.
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Pitching Stats
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2021
2020
2019
2018
2017
2021 MLB Game Log
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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
99
Last 10 Games
99
Last 5 Games
97
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 2019
 
 
-5%
BAA vs RHP
2021
 
 
-16%
BAA vs RHP
2020
 
 
-25%
BAA vs LHP
2019
No Stats
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2019vs Left .214 453 119 54 83 27 3 8
Since 2019vs Right .203 453 120 41 82 17 2 10
2021vs Left .223 335 85 45 63 16 1 6
2021vs Right .188 349 100 31 59 10 2 7
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
More Splits View More Split Stats
Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2019
 
 
-26%
ERA at Home
2021
 
 
-23%
ERA on Road
2020
 
 
-84%
ERA at Home
2019
No Stats
ERA WHIP IP W L SV K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Since 2019Home 2.98 1.08 124.0 9 3 0 9.4 3.4 0.7
Since 2019Away 4.03 1.39 89.1 7 5 0 10.4 4.7 0.8
2021Home 3.51 1.19 92.1 6 3 0 9.4 3.9 0.9
2021Away 2.70 1.26 70.0 7 2 0 11.4 4.6 0.5
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
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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
2.43
 
K/9
10.3
 
BB/9
4.2
 
HR/9
0.7
 
Fastball
94.0 mph
 
ERA
3.16
 
WHIP
1.22
 
BABIP
.286
 
GB/FB
2.44
 
Left On Base
77.3%
 
Exit Velocity
82.3 mph
 
Barrels/BBE
3.6%
 
Spin Rate
2434 rpm
 
Balls Hit 95+ MPH
25.4%
 
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
MLB: Jeff Zimmerman on Starter/Relievers Part 2
68 days ago
Jeff Zimmerman circles back and examines eight more pitchers who split time between starting and relieving in 2021. Are any of them worth a roster spot in mixed leagues in 2022?
Past Fantasy Outlooks
2021
2020
2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
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.
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
Unavailable for World Series
PHouston Astros
Forearm
October 24, 2021
McCullers (forearm) won't be available to pitch in the World Series, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports.
ANALYSIS
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Still not throwing
PHouston Astros
Forearm
October 21, 2021
Manager Dusty Baker said Thursday that McCullers (forearm) hasn't yet resumed throwing, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports.
ANALYSIS
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Avoids structural damage
PHouston Astros
Forearm
October 15, 2021
Manager Dusty Baker said Friday that McCullers (forearm) is dealing with a muscle strain and has no structural damage, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
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Left off ALCS roster
PHouston Astros
Forearm
October 15, 2021
McCullers (forearm) was left off the Astros' roster for the ALCS against the Red Sox.
ANALYSIS
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Unlikely to pitch in ALCS
PHouston Astros
Forearm
October 14, 2021
McCullers (forearm) is expected to miss the ALCS against the Red Sox, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports.
ANALYSIS
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