The mystery of when Lance McCullers would return to the Houston Astros after an extended time off the shelf with shoulder soreness has been solved. Astros manager A.J. Hinch announced that the young right-hander will return to the Astros and make his first start of 2016 in Boston against the Red Sox, as reported by the Houston Chronicle's Jake Kaplan.
AJ Hinch announces that Lance McCullers will start Friday in Boston. pic.twitter.com/k3bekvGiUs— Houston Astros (@astros) May 11, 2016
McCullers, 22, will push Collin McHugh back to Saturday and the rest of the rotation back one day. Hinch stated that the team will go with a six-man rotation for the moment -- with possible expectations for Dallas Keuchel.
The Astros young right-hander was placed on the 15-Day disabled list at the start of the 2016 season after feeling shoulder soreness in his final Spring Training start. At the time of the injury, McCullers was expected to return to the team after a short disabled list stint. But the injury lingered and the team played it safe -- stating that McCullers would have been on a pitch count even if he was healthy to start the season.
McCullers made two rehab starts in the Astros minor league system. The first with Double-A Corpus, allowing one run over three innings on three hits against Springfield on Aprill. On May 7, with Triple-A Fresno, McCullers pitched five scoreless innings and struck out seven.
In his rookie season in 2015, McCulllers was 6-7 with a 3.22 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 125 2/3 innings.
McCullers' return marks the first time the Astros rotation is at full strength in 2016.