Lance McCullers Jr.: “We’re fighting against time”

McCullers is still hopeful he can pitch in the World Series should the Astros advance

Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. speaks during a news conference before Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (David J. Phillip, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Lance McCullers Jr. is hopeful for a World Series comeback should the Astros advance. But Houston’s ace is also realistic, still digesting the diagnosis of a flexor pronator muscle strain.

“We’re just going to see how I progress and see how I’m feeling the next couple of days,” McCullers told the media ahead of Game 2 at Minute Maid Park.

“We’re fighting against time a little bit. I have to be able to throw before I just pitch in a game.”

McCullers’ absence adds to the Astros’ pitching woes, and that’s not lost on the ace. When asked how he has processed the injury, McCullers Jr. was honest about what it feels like to watch from the dugout.

“It kind of sucks, to be honest,” he said. “But we have a job to do. You know, the guys did a great job last night. The bullpen has been throwing fantastic. I have a lot of confidence in Luis (Garcia) today, and (Jose) Urquidy, and the other guys in this rotation that are going to have to step up and throw big innings.”

Prior to Game 1 of the ALCS, Alex Bregman called McCullers Jr. the “ultimate competitor” and said he’s “heartbroken.”

“It’s tough - I want to be out there,” McCullers said. “I feel like, in a way, I’ve kind of let the guys down. I know I can’t do anything about it, but it feels that way to me.”

“Today is a better day than yesterday was and so hopefully those days keep adding up and we can see where I’m at.”