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Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. set to return Saturday

Oct 7, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. (43) celebrates during the fifth inning against the Chicago White Sox in game one of the 2021 ALDS at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros right-handed pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. will make his season debut against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday after a right flexor pronator strain sidelined him for the past 10 months.

McCullers hasn’t taken the mound for Houston since Game 4 of last season’s American League Division Series against the Chicago White Sox.

In a rehab outing with Triple-A Sugarland on Sunday, McCullers went five innings, allowing five runs on seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts. He threw 86 pitches.

Rather than giving him another minor league start, Houston elected to put McCullers back in the rotation after he threw a bullpen session ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Texas Rangers.

McCullers, 28, went 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA across 28 starts last season. He walked a major-league-leading 76 batters in 162 1/3 innings while striking out 185.

The right-hander has spent his entire six-year career with the Astros. In 122 games (119 starts), he is 45-30 with a 3.57 ERA.

Houston’s pitching staff currently sports the second-best ERA in the major leagues (2.99). No other team has held opposing batters to a lower batting average, either, as hitters are batting just .210 against Astros pitchers.

–Field Level Media