The Houston Astros placed right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. on the injured list on Wednesday because of right shoulder soreness. Manager Dusty Baker said the team believes McCullers' stay on the shelf is a "short-term thing," according to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle.
McCullers had made nine starts prior to being placed on the IL. In those appearances, he had accumulated a 2.96 ERA (142 ERA+) and a 2.27 strikeout-to-walk ratio. McCullers had recorded a quality start in five of his last six outings, albeit not including his most recent outing on Saturday against the Texas Rangers. (He surrendered three runs in five innings of work.)
McCullers, who would've been a free agent at season's end, signed a long-term extension with Houston in March. Said deal guaranteed him $85 million over five seasons, not including his $6.5 million salary this year.
While it's hard to find positives whenever a pitcher of McCullers' goes down with an injury, the Astros can be thankful about the timing. Houston is expecting to have Framber Valdéz and Jake Odorizzi rejoin its rotation ahead of this weekend's series against the San Diego Padres. Valdéz, arguably the staff ace, is yet to pitch this season after breaking his finger in the spring. Odorizzi, who the Astros signed to replace Valdéz, has made just three starts because of injury.
The Astros will wrap up their series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night before taking off Thursday. Houston entered the day with a 26-22 record, good for second place in the American League West. The Oakland Athletics possess a one-game lead over the Astros (though the Astros have a significant advantage in run differential, plus-52 versus minus-12, which has been proven to be a more predictive measure of team success in smaller samples).