Lance McCullers
Lance McCullers
26-Year-Old PitcherSP
Houston Astros
2020 Fantasy Outlook
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. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
#176
ADP
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$Signed a one-year, $4.1 million contract with the Astros in December of 2019.
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
The Astros stated before McCullers took the mound Saturday that he'd be on a pitch count heading into the postseason, and they held true to their word. McCullers looked very confident and had all his pitches working effectively as he fanned a season-high nine batters using a combination of the cutter, sinker and knuckle-curve. The 26-year-old finishes the 2020 regular season with a 3.93 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 56:20 K:BB across 55 innings and will hope to replicate Saturday's dominant outing in the playoffs.
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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
80
Last 10 Games
79
Last 5 Games
72
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?
 
 
 
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9th
 
Extra
 
 
 
1st
 
 
 
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4th
 
 
 
5th
 
 
 
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9th
 
Extra
 
 
 
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2nd
 
 
 
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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
83.1 mph
 
Barrels/BBE
6.9%
 
Spin Rate
2215 rpm
 
Balls Hit 95+ MPH
26.9%
 
Swinging Strike
11.4%
 
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 Postseason Cheatsheet
Yesterday
Mookie Betts and the Dodgers have the best record in baseball and the best chance to reach the World Series. See where he ranks in our postseason rankings.
MLB Betting: Wild Card Preview
Yesterday
Everyone will be rooting against the Astros from their couches, but James Anderson likes the value of Houston +134 in their first-round series against the Twins.
FanDuel MLB: Saturday Targets
3 days ago
Chris Bennett says Bryce Harper’s doing his best to help get the Phillies into the postseason and should continue his hot streak tonight.
Weekly Pitcher Rankings: Down the Stretch They Come
10 days ago
Todd Zola ranks the week's pitching as the season comes into the final stretch. What's that mean for aces like Gerrit Cole with the playoffs on tap?
Yahoo DFS Baseball: Wednesday Picks
13 days ago
Mike Barner is taking an Astros stack Wednesday against Texas as part of a nine-game Yahoo slate.
Past Fantasy Outlooks
2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
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
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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Listed as starter
PHouston Astros
September 26, 2020
McCullers is listed as the starting pitcher for Saturday's game against the Rangers despite previous indications that he wouldn't be starting, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.
ANALYSIS
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Not expected to start Saturday
PHouston Astros
September 26, 2020
McCullers is not expected to start Saturday, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
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Gets no help from defense
PHouston Astros
September 21, 2020
McCullers (3-3) allowed four unearned runs on three hits and two walks and struck out seven over 6.2 innings in a loss to the Mariners on Monday.
ANALYSIS
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Whiffs eight in no-decision
PHouston Astros
September 16, 2020
McCullers took a no-decision during Wednesday's loss despite holding the Rangers scoreless across seven innings. He struck out eight while giving up two hits.
ANALYSIS
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