Uh-oh. The Astros already depleted rotation just got thinner, with Lance McCullers joining fellow starters Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, and Colin McHugh on the DL. That means four of the Astros five starting pitchers are on the DL with some sort of injury.
It is not clear who will replace McCullers in the starting rotation tomorrow, but I’m guessing either Francis Martes or a different Triple-AAA pitcher will receive a spot-start. If its Martes, the Astros currently have a rotation of Fiers-Musgrove-Peacock-Paulino-Martes… yikes.
McCullers has yet to play a full season, and while the talent is undeniably there, health concerns have long lingered for the rising ace. McCulers is heading to the DL with “lower back discomfort”, but its hard to gauge the severity of his injury. One hopes that theres nothing serious going on here, and this move to the DL is merely an innings-limit move. McCullers is only 23 after all, and its much more important to have him fresh in October than September.
However, we won’t know exactly whats going on with McCullers until more information is released. I’d rather the injury bug bite the team now rather than playoff time, but its still concerning.
I’ve been on the fence on whether or not the Astros need to add a starting pitcher through trade, but now I’d firmly put myself in the camp that says we should. Its not that I don’t think a healthy combination of Keuchel-McCullers-Morton is a good enough duo to win a championship, its just a lot to ask for all three of those guys to be completely healthy and firing on all cylinders at the same time.
Not only would adding another ace put the most talented Astros team ever completely “all-in” for a championship run this season, it adds insurance in case one of the Astros top arms is injured or regresses as the season goes on.
McCullers has Cy-Young winning talent, but the question mark for him has always been his health. If McCullers is healthy he is one of the best starting pitchers in the league, but history has shown us thats a big if.