Houston Astros: Lance McCullers Jr.’s latest change to his pitching strategy

Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. had a solid outing against the New York Mets yesterday but he has implemented some changes. What’s going on?

The Houston Astros were able to take down the New York Mets in walk-off fashion yesterday in what looks like one of the more encouraging wins of this young Spring Training season.

Chas McCormick, who was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 21st round of the MLB Amateur Draft, found a significant way to outshine his competition by successfully being able to hit a walk-off home run to right field off Yefry Ramirez, taking any doubt out of the team ending the game with a tie.

It was a Michael Brantley single that brought George Springer in that got the party started for the Houston Astros at the bottom of the third after Lance McCullers Jr. gave up two runs from groundouts from Pete Alonso and Eduardo Nunez, scoring Brandon Nimmo and Amed Rosario respectively.

The team put the pressure on Ryley Gilliam, loading up the bases, forcing an Alex Bregman walk and sending Carlos Correa home to tie the game up at 2-2.  Things would remain that way until McCormick had perhaps the greatest moment of his young career by helping take down the Mets for good.

Resilience was the theme for this game and it certainly was the case with McCullers, who is working hard to get into the groove after spending all of the 2019 season on the shelf recovering from Tommy John‘s surgery.

McCullers gave up a leadoff triple but incredibly was able to get the next three guys out.  The first run that he gave up that scored Nimmo invoked him to throw seven strikes out of 13 pitches.  This coincidentally happened in the second inning but was able to get the necessary outs to ensure that he stayed in control.

One can make a case that he is trying to deviate a bit from his typical strategy in terms of getting the necessary outs.  McCullers, to where his curveball and sinker are his go-to’s, used a four-seam fastball a bit but it had mixed results, causing some the issues of allowing guys to get on base.

He talks about it more in yesterday’s postgame interview via MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart:

When McCullers went back to his sinker, that’s when he was able to regain control of his situation

again.  He admitted that what he his doing is a bit out of comfort zone but is willing to work on his four-seam for improved outings.

Quite honestly, something had to change because I feel that his high reliance on his curveball may have aggravated his injury in the first place so I’m sure he’s been encouraged to spread the wealth when it comes to his pitching repertoire.

I’m hoping for the best; but all-in-all, his outing was as solid as can be and I’m encouraged about his presence on the bump come the start of this season.

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McCullers finished his outing tossing two strikeouts, allowing two runs and two hits through 2.0 innings pitched yesterday.