Houston ace McCullers left off ALCS roster against Red Sox

Sports

Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. throws against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning during Game 4 of a baseball American League Division Series Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

HOUSTON (AP) — Astros ace Lance McCullers Jr. has been left off Houston’s roster for the AL Championship Series against Boston because of a strained muscle in arm, a huge blow to a team looking to advance to the World Series for the second time in three seasons.

McCullers was great in a Game 1 win against the Chicago White Sox in the Division Series, pitching scoreless ball into the seventh. But the right-hander left Game 4 after four innings because of what the team called forearm tightness.

“He’s not able to throw the ball right now,” manager Dusty Baker said.

General manager James Click said Friday that the injury was a flexor pronator muscle strain in his right arm.

Baker added that there was no structural damage, but that they aren’t sure if he’d be available for the World Series, should the Astros advance. He is listed as being part of Houston’s taxi squad for the ALCS, but Click said that was simply so he could travel and be in the dugout for this series.

“Somebody else has to pick it up,” Baker said. “We’re not getting any sympathy or any pity from anybody. So we’ve just got to find a way.”

Houston third baseman Alex Bregman said McCullers is heartbroken that he can’t pitch in this series and the pitcher shared a similar sentiment with shortstop Carlos Correa.

“He’s very disappointed,” Correa said. “He texted me: ‘sorry, I couldn’t keep going for you guys.'”

Replacing McCullers on the roster is right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who was left off the division series roster after a disappointing first season in Houston. The only other change to Houston’s roster from the ALDS is the addition of left-handed reliever Blake Taylor in place of catcher Garrett Stubbs, who will be on the taxi squad.

Game 1 is scheduled for Friday night in Houston.

The Red Sox retained the same roster from the ALDS except for replacing pitchers Matt Barnes and Austin Davis with left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez and right-hander Hirokazu Sawamura.

Both teams will have 13 pitchers, two catchers and 11 other position players for this series.

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