Lance McCullers shut out the Tigers tonight, allowing one hit in five scoreless frames with five strikeouts. It was his fourth consecutive start without allowing a run.
McCullers is slowly becoming a household name, a guy you expect to dominate every time he takes the mound. He has won three consecutive starts, and opponents are hitting only .211 against him this season.
He's beginning to receive national attention, partially due to his sharp breaking knuckle curve, the grip for which is being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Of the 96 pitches McCullers threw tonight, 40 were knuckle curves. He struck out five with the pitch, including three of four hitters in the fourth.
The Tigers went 0 for 10 against the pitch in the loss.
But McCullers curveball has always been great. Last year, opponents hit only .140 against the pitch.
It's his other pitches that have given him success, keeping hitters off balance and preventing them from guessing fastball.
Last year, opponents hit .443 against McCuller's fastball and .458 against his change. This year, they're hitting .185 against the fastball and .167 against the change, a pitch he's become increasingly confident with as the season progresses.
If McCullers stays healthy, the sky is the limit. He pitches with a passion I haven't seen in some time, and despite being 23 years old, he won't let anyone talk down on him. Just ask Mike Napoli:
It looks like we have two aces in Houston. Don't mess with the H.