McCullers ready for major role in Astros' closeout plans

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lance McCullers Jr. headed into Game 6 of the World Series not knowing whether he would be attempting to close out a championship on Tuesday night or starting Game 7 one night later.

If anybody could handle the uncertainty amid such high stakes, it's Houston's versatile right-hander. McCullers has already been a resilient contributor to the Astros' remarkable season, and they're likely to need him one more time.

"I think all bets are off," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said before Game 6 when asked what role McCullers would fill over the next 24 hours. "You just try to win the game. I think saving things for the unknown is probably not the way to go."

If the Astros manage to claim their first championship at Dodger Stadium, the biggest victory in their 56-year history is likely to involve McCullers in some way.

While Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander have formed a dynamic one-two punch at the top of Houston's rotation, McCullers has been a steady young contributor as the No. 3 starter. After an All-Star first half of the regular season and a winless second half, the 24-year-old with the nasty curve has slotted comfortably into the Astros' playoff plans.

McCullers won Game 3 of the World Series, pitching four-hit ball into the sixth inning of Houston's 5-3 victory. He showed tenacity in the third inning of that game when he walked the bases loaded, but yielded just one run after getting a double-play groundout by Corey Seager and another groundout by Justin Turner.

"I did as best as I could for as long as I could," McCullers said.

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© 2017 Associated Press


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