Written by David Schoenfield at ESPN.com
The pitching matchup for the first-ever World Series Game 7 at Dodger Stadium will pit a brash 24-year-old son of a major leaguer versus a veteran trade acquisition who has spent just three months in a Dodgers uniform.
Lance McCullers Jr. will take the mound for the Houston Astros, while the Dodgers will go with Yu Darvish. Both are hoping to rebound from rocky performances earlier in the World Series.
Darvish quickly exited the clubhouse after the Dodgers’ 3-1 win in Game 6 on Tuesday night, before the rest of his teammates had even finished showering; but McCullers went out to right field and played catch, going through his pitches as fans were still exiting the ballpark.
“I was in the bullpen toward the end; that’s why I had to throw on the field postgame,” McCullers said. “Just because I hadn’t thrown yet, because I was hot and ready to go, if the situation came up where they needed me.”
McCullers started Game 3 of the World Series, but he struggled with his command, walking four batters and giving up three runs in 5⅓ innings, before eventually getting credit for the win in Houston’s 5-3 win. He said that experience would help in Game 7.
“I learned I wasn’t very sharp,” he said after Game 6. “I knew that early, though. So I knew it was going to be a grind for me pretty much the whole outing, which it was. This is a very good hitting team. They’re patient, but they’ll make you pay for mistakes. So I have to go out there and just execute my game plan. And I need to execute a little better in certain spots.”
The Astros’ plan is to have everyone available behind McCullers, which means Game 6 starter Justin Verlander could pitch and Game 5 starter Dallas Keuchel will definitely be ready to go in the bullpen.
“I think all of our guys will have the adrenaline on their side,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “They are all going to be ready.”
Verlander will be a game-time decision as to whether he can give the Astros a batter or, maybe in the extreme, an inning. He threw 93 pitches in Game 6 and said he will play catch before Game 7 to evaluate how his right arm feels.
“I think it depends on when I get to the ballpark,” Verlander said. “I’ll throw the ball and see if I’m available or not.”
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