Since first breaking the Houston Astros’ starting rotation in 2015, Lance McCullers Jr. has always been one of the most talented starters in baseball. Yes, McCullers is no Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer. He was not even as valuable as, say, his teammate Charlie Morton, who has not really ever been considered an ace. But McCullers is ultra-talented.
Among starters with at least 300 innings pitched from 2015 to 2017, McCullers ranked 12th in baseball in strikeout percentage, in front of Madison Bumgarner, Jake Arrieta, David Price and many others. McCullers’ ace potential stems from his fastball, which has averaged between 94-95 MPH throughout his career and has reached 99.
While McCullers does boast heat that can blow by hitters, it’s not his best weapon. His curveball — historically thrown just as often as his fastball — is what gives McCullers another offering to strike out hitters. And he’s been quite successful. Over 118 2⁄3 innings last season, McCullers had the 10th-highest swinging-strike rate on his curveball across all pitchers.
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