On Wednesday, the Houston Astros made it official as they signed starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr to a five-year contract extension. McCullers returned to action in 2020 after recovering from Tommy John Surgery. With Astros Ace Justin Verlander recovering from his own Tommy John Surgery, and Zack Greinke in the final year of his deal, it’s the right time to extend McCullers.
In late 2018, Lance McCullers Jr went through his own Tommy John Surgery, missing all of the 2019 season for the Houston Astros. However, he returned in 2020, albeit within a shortened season. Nonetheless, McCullers finished with a 3.93 ERA in 11 games. Furthermore, he gave up 44 hits, 24 earned runs, and a .220 average.
With a full Spring Training ahead, it’s to be expected that McCullers Jr will be fully prepared for the 2021 season. Given this, it’s even more expected that McCullers will be able to improve upon his 2020 performance. With Framber Valdez battling through a finger injury, it’s a fantastic opportunity ahead of Lance McCullers Jr to establish himself as a top starting pitcher in the American League.
Manager Dusty Baker announced the starting rotation to begin the season. Zack Greinke will kickoff the season for the Astros, followed by Cristian Javier. Lance McCullers Jr is the teams third starter in the rotation. Jose Urquidy will pitch fourth for the Astros. The fifth and final spot in the starting rotation has yet to be decided for the franchise.
With Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke possibly nearing the end of their careers in Houston, it only makes sense to extend McCullers. If pitching coach Brent Strom is able to get the best out of McCullers, then the Astros will have gotten an absolute steal. It’s a contract extension that is high risk, but also one that could payoff massively for the franchise.