Lance McCullers Jr. is young, but he’s not that young

Yes, ball player-wise Lance McCullers is young, but he’s not that young. Carlos Correa is younger. Alex Bregman is younger. When Jose Altuve was Lance’s age he led the majors in batting average and hits. When Larry Dierker was LMJ’s age he was a second-time All-Star in his 7th full season in the majors. Heck, Audie Murphy won the Congressional Medal of Honor at the age of 19 for holding off a company of Germans single-handedly and then leading a counterattack without ammunition.

The one thing that is mostly young about Lance is his maturity. We’ve seen this before. We’ve seen a meltdown last season when he could not get on the same page with his catcher Evan Gattis; he seemed to have an infantile episode having to deal with someone other than Brian McCann. We saw a meltdown in the 7th game of the World Series where his pitches were more likely to hit the ribs of the opponent as the strike zone. We saw a meltdown earlier this season where he gave up 8 runs in 2/3 of an inning where he blamed having to follow a plan that was not his plan.

And then Saturday night there were again some signs of strain or over-emotion or immaturity. Early on Yuli Gurriel messed up a very hard hit ball right at him. Lance showed his displeasure with the misplay right out in the middle of the field for all to see. As they headed off the field Jose Altuve showed some emotion back at LMJ just before getting into the dugout. Then later on to finish off a ragged start, Lance did not get a strike call against Edwin Encarnacion and followed it up with a batting practice home run pitch.

There is a fine line between players being emotional bull dogs and being over-amped. Lance McCullers seems to be tottering on that line right now. When he is riding his emotions, but controlling them, he is one of the best pitchers in the league. When he doesn’t control those emotions he is the second coming of Lucas Harrell.

So, going forward, what happens?

  • Does  Justin Verlander step in and give him some advice on how to channel and control that emotional energy?
  • Does Manager A.J. Hinch take action and if so what?
    • Give lights out reliever Collin McHugh a starting spot back?
    • Put McCullers in the bullpen? In the minors?
    • Give him time out and take away his I-phone for a day?
    • Or let his players self police LMJ?

What would you do?


121 comments on “Lance McCullers Jr. is young, but he’s not that young

  1. Devo’s, arm is….DEAD! Hinch will NOT play small ball….that pi$$es me off more than anything! They have already won this game. I’m outta here.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just erased what I WANTED to say. I’m so angry right now all I can see is red.
    They committed *5* errors, and our guys could NOT capitalize on any of them.
    I REALLY wish we could hear from this manager, WHY these guys can’t play small ball. I’m not joking….I’m as serious as a heart attack. I want to hear it out of his mouth. We had better hope Keuchel can get through 7 tomorrow because we have 2 guys left in the pen who will be able to throw a ball. Devo’S arm is literally going to fall off, and it’s not even June yet. I’m done…sorry I’m just so angry. See you tomorrow….maybe.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I just called prescription into my local pharmacy for an unlimited supply of “chill pills” because I feel the same way as you. I’ll be glad to share them. As for our team, they keep finding the little ways to lose games instead of the little ways to win them. No doubt in my mind that if Gurriel had bunted in the 9th we would have had 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. You’d think we might have gotten an extra run in. But no, let’s send everybody to the plate to swing away. In fact Betances couldn’t throw a strike but let’s swing at every pitch anyway. This is the 3rd game in 4 outings that we let slip away because we were stupid.


  3. Still in first place. Mariners are close. Angels and A’s are over .500. Thank God for the Rangers. If and when we get to the playoffs, we will face good teams. JL has to be working the phones now to plug a few holes in the bullpen.


  4. Fresno won tonight and are in first place.
    Corpus Christi won and are one game behind the team with the best record in the Texas League.
    Buies Creek beat Down East tonight and are tied with that team for first place and they have the best records in the Carolina League. Down East is the Rangers high A team.
    Quad Cities won tonight. They are in first place in their division and beat the team tonight that is in second place.


  5. Last night – and the other losses to the Yankees on May 1, 2, and 3, showed why we are just a 2nd tier team this year. Our bullpen is unable to close out games against top tier opponents – and even if it the bullpen is ‘on’, our offense is almost always overpowered by top tier relievers.

    And I think our Peacock has lost a few feathers.


    • Hey now, people complained that all the Rockets do is try to shoot 3 pointers and they made it all the way to the Western Conference finals! I mean, they missed 27 in a row, but that didn’t stop them from trying! Pound hard enough and that square peg will fit into the round hole.


  6. The cynic giving a pep talk? People, please, do not agonize over every loss in May. It will only serve to make all our present medical issues (woes) worse. Go jump in the sea. Grow some tomatoes. Have a Bud Light. Write a poem. Listen to acid rock. Just don’t worry. We’ll see some changes. And when the time comes, Luhnow will pull off another coup and position this club for another run. He will.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like your optimism. I just hope you’re right. We just get frustrated when we snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. See what happens tonight. I’m going to say that I don’t care for the way we’re using our bull pen these days I’d rather see Rondon closing than any of the others. It’s like the other day in Cleveland. Devenski was lights out but we only let him pitch an inning. We know what happened there. Now we use him 3 in a row and he was not on. It’s kind of like taking Altuve out of the game in the 7th inning after he’s had a 4 for 4 night and substituting Jake because he needs to get some AB’s. I’d rather see a pitcher on his game throw 2 innings plus in one game than throw 1 inning 3 days in a row. And as much as I like Peacock, and McHugh, they should be pitching at least 2 plus innings (if they are on) rather than the 1 inning for a save situation. They are not closers. Good managers (in all walks of life) use the strengths of their employees to help achieve desired results. You don’t necessarily put them in positions they are not adapted to. The Closer position has been our Achilles heel for sometime now. Time to do something about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hats off to Gardner, to Judd, to Gregorius, to young studs Torres and Andujar, and to bullpen aces Robertson, Betances, and Chapman, all of whom proved to be a notch better than our guys. They deserve the series win. The best we can do, even if we somehow manage to win tonight, is to finish 3-4 against them. Unless we improve our bullpen and offense substantially, while we MIGHT squeak out a win in the West, the road to the AL Championship this year truly does go through New York and Boston.


  8. I may be missing something but it is too early to designate the road to the AL championship yet. In 2017, some folks thought that the road for the Astros was going to go through Cleveland after their nasty early season sweep of the Astros and their 5-1 dominance of the season series. It did not.
    You know who else the Astros lost their season series to in the AL last season? The Royals, the Rays and the White Sox. What a murderer’s row that was. Did that cost them anything or mean anything – no.

    I do agree that if the Astros have continual problems closing out games or overworking the bullpen then that could be a big problem for the team, morale-wise as much as anything. But it’s barely Memorial day and there is a lot of baseball to be played and moves to be made.
    I’m like daveb – I have confidence that the front office will do their best to make the move or moves this team needs down the line.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In football we talk about winning the games you’re supposed to win. With a 16 game season it’s tougher to take a loss to a bottom feeder and still be in position to win a conference title or WC. In baseball, as long as the Astros beat up on the bad teams and hold their own in their division they should be able to make the postseason despite not competing or finishing the job against the (obvious) top teams in the league. The problems are this:
      1. Every time you lose to NYY, BOS, or CLE you are making it that much harder to have home field advantage in October
      2. Jim Crane makes lots of money for each October home game. We need him to spend lots of money to keep our favorites (like Springer and Correa) in the right uniforms.
      3. A loss here or there is no big deal, but they do add up. At the end of April we were 20-10…but probably should have been 25-5. We’re 15-11 in May with two unfavorable matchups remaining. It’s a downward trend…but we knew this stretch of the schedule would be rough. Wouldn’t you like to have some of those games back that we gave away?
      4. Mileage on the bullpen adds up. I still say 2015, great surprise that it was, ended on a sour note because our bullpen was running on fumes in August. Last year our bullpen was roughed up throughout the playoffs. We’re seeing signs right now that it’s in trouble and we haven’t left the second month of the season.
      5. I hate losing to teams with obnoxious fans.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Something I find interesting is that the Astros current record (35-21) is on a pace for 101 wins, while their Pythagorean number is on a pace for like 119 wins.
    Sometimes that is a sign of being lucky or unlucky – though I think in this case it is a sign of a team that piles on in their wins and loses close ones.

    Liked by 2 people

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