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
$Signed a one-year, $4.1 million contract with the Astros in December of 2019, avoiding arbitration.
Pleased with summer debut
PHouston Astros
July 10, 2020
McCullers threw four innings and 67 pitches in an intra-squad game Thursday, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
McCullers, who pitched in a simulated game last week, had his first session in a game-like environment. Like last week's sim game, the right-hander reported feeling strong enough to pitch longer. He navigated early issues and was able to make mid-game adjustments to elicit swing-and-misses over the final two frames. McCullers, who missed all of 2019 following Tommy John elbow surgery, looks ready to go as the Astros' No. 3 starter.
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Pitching Stats
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2019
2018
2017
2019 MLB Game Log
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2018 MLB Game Log
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2017 MLB Game Log
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Minor League Game Log
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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
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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
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Recent RotoWire Articles Featuring Lance McCullers
RotoWire Roundtable: Updated Rankings for 60-game Season
3 days ago
Our rankers are back for the second installment of the Roundtable for the 60-game season. How are they handling Mike Trout for the time being?
AL FAAB Factor: Early July Update
9 days ago
Erik Siegrist looks over AL rosters as summer camp kicks off and considers the likelihood of top prospects like Jo Adell playing significant roles this season.
Mound Musings: Life, the Universe and Everything
12 days ago
Brad Johnson touches upon changes with the shorten season, and discusses the New York Yankee’s new ace Gerrit Cole in his Notable Rotation Ramblings.
RotoWire Roundtable: Rankings for 60-game Season
17 days ago
Four sets of individual fantasy baseball rankings are compiled into a Top 300 composite ranking for the upcoming 60-game MLB season.
Regan's Rumbings: Play Ball...I Think
18 days ago
Dave Regan discusses things to watch for in the shortened 2020 season, including where Yasiel Puig might land.
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
Logs sim game
PHouston Astros
July 5, 2020
McCullers pitched three innings of a simulated game Saturday, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports.
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Throwing Saturday
PHouston Astros
July 3, 2020
McCullers will throw live batting practice Saturday, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports.
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Ahead of other Astros
PHouston Astros
June 29, 2020
McCullers has taken an aggressive approach during the shutdown and is "... probably ahead of everybody ...," manager Dusty Baker told Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle.
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Fires two innings
PHouston Astros
March 11, 2020
McCullers allowed one hit and one walk while striking out three over two scoreless innings in Wednesday's spring game against the Nationals.
ANALYSIS
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Throws 29 pitches Friday
PHouston Astros
March 7, 2020
McCullers allowed two runs on two hits while striking out two in Friday's spring game against the Mets.
ANALYSIS
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