Red Sox

Astros’ Lance McCullers Jr. could miss ALCS series against Red Sox

The Houston ace left his last start against the Chicago White Sox with forearm tightness and looks unlikely to pitch against the Red Sox in the ALCS.

Lance McCullers Jr. Astros Red Sox ALCS
Lance McCullers Jr. of the Houston Astros pitches against the Chicago White Sox during Game 4 of the ALDS. Stacy Revere/Getty Images
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One of the Red Sox’ biggest obstacles to making the team’s second World Series in four years might not be on the field in the ALCS.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported Thursday Houston Astros ace Lance McCullers Jr. is in danger of missing the American League’s championship series with an injury to his throwing arm.

McCullers left his last start in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Chicago White Sox with forearm tightness after just four innings of work. Though he only gave up one run in the contest, he threw 73 pitches in the contest after shutting down the White Sox through 6 2/3 innings in Game 1 of the series.

Heyman reported the 28-year-old starter underwent an MRI that determined McCullers would be fine long-term but put his short-term availability in doubt.

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Veteran USA TODAY baseball reporter Bob Nightengale called the injury a “forearm strain,” which could indicate partial tearing of muscles in his lower throwing arm. Nightengale also suggested the pitcher could be available for the World Series should Houston advance.

That, of course, means they have to get past the Red Sox and their surging offense first.

After getting shut out in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox scored no fewer than six runs in the final three games of the series, putting up 26 runs overall. Now that offense will face an Astros team missing its likely best pitcher.

Houston still boasts some solid starting pitching with veteran Zach Grienke, who has significant postseason experience, Framber Valdez (3.14 ERA), and All-Star Jake Odorizzi likely in the rotation. Odorizzi was initially left off the ALDS roster but will likely fill in with McCullers out.

But there is no denying things could be much easier for the Red Sox without having to face McCullers’s wipeout sliders, lively 95 mile-per-hour fastballs, and ridiculous changeups.

The Red Sox and Astros face off in Game 1 of the ALCS Friday night.

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