The Astros are expected to lose Charlie Morton and/or Dallas Keuchel in free agency this winter. Now, it looks like a third starting pitcher might not be playing any ball at Minute Maid Park next season.
Per Houston GM Jeff Luhnow, Lance McCullers Jr. is in danger of missing the 2019 season. Nothing is definite as of yet, but he's dealing with an elbow injury that would keep him off the field next year if he's forced to undergo surgery.
Hello from Carlsbad.— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) November 6, 2018
Jeff Luhnow said Lance McCullers Jr. "has been seen by some doctors and I think we’re going to know more shortly.”
"Will he pitch for you next year?"
"If he has surgery, no. If he doesn't, yes," Luhnow said.
The window for another World Series could soon be closing on the Stros. They don't have the resources to retain every last one of their stars long-term, and they've been bit hard by the injury bug.
Jeff Luhnow did acknowledge that it's an elbow problem for Lance McCullers Jr, the first time (I think) there's been that specific of detail shared.— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) November 6, 2018
As the Red Sox and Yankees will presumably only get better in the next few months, the reigning AL West champs may go from World Series contenders to early playoff exit candidates before the winter is over.
They have to hope that the 25-year-old righty will be good to go in 2019. If not, it will just make it even more difficult for the Astros to compete at the highest level next time around.