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 win in the history of the club — 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 of the 2022 playoffs, having pitched shutout games in both the American League and AL Tournament. He threw six scoreless innings in the Astros’ 18-inning victory over Seattle in Game 3 of the ALDS, allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits and one walk in over five innings 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 had to do, and they got a 1-1 draw, so we’re going to go into their stadium and play three on road and play good baseball. Instead [I’m] really looking forward to experiencing the crowd. I have heard a lot about it. So I’m very open. I’m a huge fan of the game and I think it’s a great time. I’m looking forward to trying to help us win.
McCullers was one of the best big game hitters in Astros history, going 2-2 with a 2.77 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 18 career games (11 starts) during the postseason. from His 11 starts and 68 1/3 innings are second-most in franchise history behind Justin Verlander (17 starts, 104 1/3 innings).
In his previous two World Series starts, in 2017, he allowed three runs, seven hits, four walks and four strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. He also hit a home run in Game 7 in ’17 in just 2 1/3 innings at Dodger Stadium.
McCullers faced the Phillies in his final start of the season on October 3, holding them to one run on six hits and one walk over six innings. He hit a leadoff homer against Kyle Schwarber and died as the Astros were shut out by the Phillies, 3-0, as Philadelphia clinched the final NL Wild Card spot.
“They’ve got guys from the jump, with Schwarber down to the middle of that lineup, who hit for average and hit for power,” McCullers said. “So you have guys down there who, you saw the bat [Bryson] Stott tonight [in Game 2]. It’s one of the most amazing bats I’ve seen in a while. And when they get on top, they can run and then put the ball in play. So they are a very complete team. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”