The Houston Astros have closed the gap on the New York Yankees and tied them in the standings entering play Wednesday. Both clubs are now 71-40 on the season. Things appear to be getting even better for Houston. On Wednesday, news surfaced that veteran starter Lance McCullers is going to return to the rotation. He has spent the entire season the injured list with a forearm injury.
Joe Espada says Lance McCullers Jr will start against Oakland Saturday.
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) August 10, 2022
McCullers is going to make his season debut this Saturday against the Oakland Athletics. That's obviously an ideal opponent for his return as Oakland is near the bottom in runs scored this year.
The Yankees were on a near-historic pace earlier this season. Then they played the rival Astros for the first time this season a couple of months ago. Since then New York is playing .500 ball at 19-19. Meanwhile, the Astros have quietly been cruising along.
Much of the talk this season has been about the Yankees, the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Houston has stayed relatively under the radar. But they are a force to be reckoned with.
The Astros already boasted baseball's best rotation. Justin Verlander is their ace and is having arguably the best year of any pitcher in baseball. Framber Valdez has emerged as a legitimate number two starter, having logged a quality start 20 games in a row. Cristian Javier, Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy have all been very good this year.
Now McCullers will join them. McCullers has not pitched in the majors since last postseason due to a flexor tendon injury. His velocity dipped in his final rehab start so his production should be monitored closely.
In the American League, it appears like we are destined for a New York vs. Houston ALCS again. That's likely a nightmare scenario for New York.