HOUSTON — Five years after starting Game 7 of the 2017 World Series — a game the Astros won against the Dodgers in Los Angeles for their first championship in club history — right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. will return to the fall classic stage when starting in Game 3 of the World Series in Philadelphia on Monday night.
The best-of-seven series against the Phillies ends 1-1 after the Astros defeated the Phillies 5-2 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday night.
McCullers will make his third start to the 2022 playoffs after serving in crucial games in the American League Division Series and AL Championship Series. He pitched six scoreless innings in the Astros’ 18-inning win over Seattle in Game 3 of the ALDS and gave up four runs (three earned) on eight hits and a five-inning walk in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Yankees in New York.
“I’m really excited,” McCullers said. “They came here and did what they were supposed to and they drew 1-1, so it’s up to us to go to their park and play three on the street and play some good baseball. but [I’m] I’m really looking forward to seeing the crowd. I’ve heard a lot about it. So I was pretty 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 lead us to 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 starts and 68 1/3 innings are the second highest in franchise history behind Justin Verlander (17 playoff starts, 104 1/3 innings).
In his two previous World Series starts, both in 2017, he gave up three runs, seven hits, four walks and four batters in 7 2/3 innings. He also hit a run in Game 7 in Year 17 while pitching just 2 1/3 innings at Dodger Stadium.
McCullers faced the Phillies in his last regular start of the season on Oct. 3, pinning them on a six-hit run and a six-inning walk. He handed a leadoff homer to Kyle Schwarber and ended up suffering the loss as the Astros were shut out 3-0 by the Phillies as Philadelphia secured the final NL wild card spot.
“They’ve got guys really from the jump, with Schwarber all the way down to at least the middle of this lineup, beating for average and for performance,” McCullers said. “And then you have people downstairs who saw it [Bryson] Stott had tonight [in Game 2]. That was one of the most impressive bats I’ve seen in a long time. And when they step in, they can run and then they put the ball in play. So they are a really complete team. I look forward to the challenge.”