Rookie Lance McCullers is eager to take the ball for the Astros in ALDS Game 4.
Troy Taormina/Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
After splitting two games at Kauffman Stadium, the Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals head back to Houston for Games 3 and 4 of the ALDS this weekend.
After ace Dallas Keuchel takes the mound on Sunday in Game 3, the club is entrusting rookie Lance McCullers with a Game 4 start on Monday – whether Houston is up 2-1 or trailing 2-1 in the series.
Manager A.J. Hinch made the announcement on Friday, and McCullers expressed excitement about the responsibility.
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“It’s going to be an emotional game,” McCullers told Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. “You can’t take the emotion out of it. I don’t think going into the game saying, ‘It’s just any other game,’ is the right approach. I think you have to kind of understand the magnitude of the game, face it head on and just realize you have to go out there and still have to pitch. You try to do anything different is when it’s going to go south for you."
As Drellich pointed out, McCullers generally pitches well at Minute Maid Park – his ERA in 10 starts at home in 2015 is just 1.86.
In addition to expressing a comfort level that goes along with pitching at home, McCullers will do so on Monday with a big audience rooting him on. As he explained to Drellich, “I’m going to have my family in the stands. And it’s going to be something that you dream about a long time. You never know when and if it’ll come to fruition. I’m just really looking to take advantage of the opportunity and just go out there and pitch my heart out.”
No matter where the Astros are in the series come Monday, it’ll be a big opportunity for their young right-handed starter.