HOUSTON – Five years after he started Game 7 of the 2017 World Series – a game the Astros won over the Dodgers in Los Angeles for their first championship in club history – right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. returns to the Fall Classic stage when he starts Game 3 of the World Series on Monday night in Philadelphia.
The best-of-seven series against the Phillies is tied, 1-1, after the Astros beat the Phillies, 5-2, on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.
McCullers will make his third start in the 2022 playoffs, having played in the American League Division Series and AL Championship Series. He threw six scoreless innings in the Astros’ 18-inning victory over Seattle in Game 3 of the ALDS and gave up four runs (three earned) on eight hits and one walk over five innings in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Yankees in New York .
“I’m really excited,” McCullers said. “They came in here and did what they were supposed to, and they got the 1-1 split, so it’s going to be up to us to go into their park and play three on the road and play good baseball. But [I’m] really looking forward to experiencing the crowd. I have heard a lot about it. So I’ve been quite open. I’m a really big fan of the game, and I think it’s going to be a great moment. I’m looking forward to trying to set us up for a win.”
McCullers is one of the best big game pitchers in Astros history, going 2-2 with a 2.77 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 18 career games (11 starts) in the postseason. His 11 playoff appearances and 68 1/3 innings are second in franchise history behind Justin Verlander (17 starts, 104 1/3 innings).
Across his previous two World Series starts, both in 2017, he has given up three runs, seven hits, four walks and struck out four batters in 7 2/3 innings. He also drove in a run in Game 7 in ’17 while pitching just 2 1/3 innings at Dodger Stadium.
McCullers faced the Phillies in his final regular season start on October 3, holding them to one run on six hits and one walk over six innings. He gave up a leadoff homer to Kyle Schwarber and ended up taking the loss as the Astros were shut out by the Phillies, 3-0, as Philadelphia clinched the final NL Wild Card spot.
“They really have guys from the jump, with Schwarber all the way down to at least the middle of that lineup, who hit for average and hit for power,” McCullers said. “And then you have guys on base and you saw that at-bat [Bryson] Stott after tonight [in Game 2]. That was one of the most impressive at-bats I’ve seen in a while. And when they get on, they can run, and then they put the ball in play. So they are a complete team. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”