Houston Astros: Why it’s a moment of redemption for Lance McCullers Jr.

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 21: Lance McCullers Jr.
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 21: Lance McCullers Jr. /

The Houston Astros have earned a trip to the World Series for only the second time in franchise history and Lance McCullers Jr. was on the bump where a faint dream became a vivid reality.

The Houston Astros continue to rewrite the history books with the spectacular run that they have had for 2017.  From a powering seasonal start to take a commanding lead in the AL West to eventually contend for a playoff spot, it can be said that this seemed to be the year for the Houston Astros as most things were clicking.

But the path for Lance McCullers Jr.’s success this season has been twisted at best.  He had a terrific start to the first half of the season where he posted a 7-2 record, 3.05 ERA, 106 strikeouts and a 1.14 WHIP through 91.1 innings pitched.  But the injury bug bit him hard toward the back end of his 16 starts, limiting his availability for the remainder of the season.

The second half was rough for him, he couldn’t stay long in games and he gifting home runs as if it was during Christmas and he was Santa Claus.  His second half stat line was less than impressive: an 0-2 record, 8.23 ERA, 26 strikeouts and a1.83 WHIP through 27.1 innings pitched.

Through those six starts, I knew something wasn’t right about him because he just didn’t look the same out there.  So he went back-and-forth from the DL with his hopes pinned on making a valuable impact for his team.

That aforementioned hope was culminated in his 4.0 innings of relief last night, where he was throwing his signature curve ball like crazy, generating six strikeouts, one walk and one hit.  He was completely locked in to his performance and you would’ve had to get the National Guard to get him off the mound when it was time to close at the top of the ninth inning.  He coincidentally got credited with the save on such a critical game for the team to win.

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Outside of Justin Verlander (16.0) and Dallas Keuchel (11.2), no other pitcher has seen more innings of work than McCullers Jr. (10.0) in the ALCS.  It’s remarkable because I had my concerns on if he’d be available for our postseason run.  But for all intents and purposes, I think things are going to be fine for him if stays on his current trajectory.

Not only likely the World Series clinch was a moment of triumph for him but it was one of redemption because he was there for his team when they needed him the most.  He can certainly hold his head up high for that and I strongly believe he has more in store for the Los Angeles Dodgers once that series commences Tuesday.

We’ll have to see.

But I’ll tell you what — all what us fans had to endure during those awful years of Houston Astros baseball during the rebuilding stage, where we had back-to-back 100-loss seasons, this is what it’s all about in terms of trusting the process and letting it take its course.

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We’ve finally arrived Houston Astros fans and it was sooner than we thought.  We kept questioning Jeff Luhnow and the rest of the franchise’s brass on how long will this “process” would take as there were moments where it seemed we took a step backward just a few seasons ago.  But on the other hand, the direction of this franchise moved as forward as it possibly could and now we’re all witnesses of groundbreaking moments being made.

With the way this team is built and as long as the leadership stays relatively intact, I think this will be first of many World Series to contend for.  YOU. JUST. WAIT.

Go Astros!