The Houston Astros have been really quiet about the status of Lance McCullers so far this offseason.
On Talking Stros, we have been addressing the possibility of him missing the entire 2019 season. The rumors were that Lance McCullers was pitching with a torn UCL in the playoffs. If that was the case, it was an odd decision, but also shows how valuable McCullers is. No matter if he had surgery right after the Astros were eliminated or now, he would still likely miss the season.
We had Chandler Rome on this week’s Talking Stros and he said that the Astros have a weird policy. They don’t announce that a player is having surgery until it is over. Rome also said that McCullers was a little coy when he was asked about his elbow.
That could be a Jeff Luhnow thing, especially with news that could lead to a search for a starting pitcher. Knowing that you are losing possibly Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton, losing McCullers could lead to a perception of desperation to make a trade. Maybe that is why we didn’t hear of any official announcements.
Rome told us on the show that once the GM Meetings began, Luhnow could no longer dodge the issue. He was right, as Luhnow offered up something yesterday. Via Rome, Luhnow finally admitted that there was an issue about McCullers’ elbow. But he then gave a maybe, maybe not answer.
Via Rome, McCullers “has been seen by some doctors and I think we’re going to know more shortly.” When asked if he will pitch next year, he replied, "If he has surgery, no. If he doesn't, yes,"
So, we are back at square one. We have confirmed that there is an injury, but don’t know if it’s Tommy John surgery. Now, Luhnow has to alter his offseason plans for the rotation, if he has surgery that is. Instead of two openings in the rotation, they could have three of them.
They could always re-sign Keuchel or Morton, but the later will want a longer contract. They can sign or trade for someone outside the organization, but it’s hard to replace what McCullers offers. You have Collin McHugh who could move back to the rotation. Youngsters such as Framber Valdez, Josh James, and Forrest Whitley could fill in the back of the rotation.
We still continue to wait for word on McCullers’ elbow. This announcement could change the focus this offseason. Anytime you hear about elbow injuries to pitchers, it makes you worried.