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The Houston Astros will be without their best pitcher during the American League Championship Series. Lance McCullers was left off the team's ALCS roster Friday due to a forearm injury.
The loss could prove significant. McCullers played a key role in the Astros advancing past the Chicago White Sox in the Division Series. He started two games during that series, posting a 0.84 ERA in 10 2/3 innings. McCullers' numbers may have been even better, but he left his second start against the White Sox early due to a forearm injury.
The Astros haven't ruled out McCullers for the remainder of the postseason yet. The team provided an update Friday, saying McCullers has an injured muscle in his right forearm.
McCullers has an injured muscle in his right forearm and is unable to throw right now, per Dusty Baker. No structural damage to his ligament, he said. Unclear if he’d be able to pitch in the World Series should the Astros advance.
— James Wagner (@ByJamesWagner) October 15, 2021
There is reportedly no structural damage to McCullers' ligament. It's not clear if he would be available should the Astros advance to the World Series.
McCullers is on the team's taxi squad for its ALCS matchup against the Boston Red Sox, so it's possible he could play in the series if required. Players on the taxi squad can be promoted to the active roster in the case of an injury or positive COVID-19 test.
Astros pitchers need to step up against Red Sox
Defeating the Red Sox without McCullers will be a challenge. The Red Sox ranked sixth with a 107 wRC+ — an advanced stat that measures a team's offensive performance — during the regular season. Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez and Kyle Schwarber make up a terrifying quartet for opposing pitchers.
With McCullers sidelined, the Astros will go with Framber Valdez in Game 1 and Luis Garcia in Game 2. Both players put up strong numbers in the regular season. Valdez posted a 3.14 ERA over 134 2/3 innings and Garcia had a 3.30 ERA in 155 1/3 innings.
The Astros are the favorite to advance to the World Series in the American League, but the Los Angeles Dodgers have the best odds of winning it all, according to BetMGM.