White, Fisher also on list for series against Red Sox
By Brian McTaggart
HOUSTON -- The Astros set their 25-man roster for the American League Division Series presented by Doosan on Thursday morning, choosing right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. over right-hander Collin McHugh. Infielder Tyler White and rookie outfielder Derek Fisher also made the roster.
The Astros will carry 11 pitchers, three catchers, six infielders and five outfielders in the series against the Red Sox, and the roster can be tweaked if the Astros advance to the AL Championship Series presented by Camping Ground.
The August trade for pitcher Justin Verlander, who will start Thursday's Game 1 at Minute Maid Park, left the Astros with two extra starting pitchers if they plan on using four starters in the ALDS. With Dallas Keuchel pitching in Game 2, Hinch said Brad Peacock (13-2, 3.00 ERA) , Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) and McCullers (7-4, 4.25 ERA) would all be available in relief in Games 1 and 2, and one of them would start Saturday's Game 3.
"The luxury of having those guys all be possible Game 3 and 4 starters is where we're going to try to win Game 1 and Game 2," Hinch said. "It doesn't clarify anything [about their roles], other than who made the roster."
Hinch said informing McHugh, who started two games in the 2015 ALDS, that he would be left off the roster was a difficult conversation.
"It was [a hard choice] because he could help us," Hinch said. "We decided to go with 11 pitchers, so that was the beginning of it, and then we tried to pick the best weapons we could against this particular team."
McHugh, who missed the regular season's first 3 1/2 months with an arm injury and went 5-1 with a 2.61 ERA in his final eight starts, took the news in stride.
"My mindset has always been it's a privilege to be here," McHugh said. "It's a privilege to play Major League Baseball, especially on a team like this that has a chance to win a World Series, a team that's really good. Just because I'm not on the roster doesn't take away from what I've been able to add to this team throughout the season."
McCullers went 7-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 16 starts in the first half of the season en route to being named to his first All-Star Game. He was 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA in four July starts before going on the DL at the end of the month for the second time with back discomfort.
He came back in early September and dealt with arm fatigue, but wound up making three starts in the month, including an 83-pitch outing Saturday in Boston that showed he was healthy. McCullers could be used as a reliever or a starter.
"Everybody is all fixated on Lance in the bullpen. I don't know why. You guys are asking me these questions every day about it," Hinch said. "I never said Lance was in the bullpen yet other than today or tomorrow."
The final position player spots weren't surprises. Fisher gives the Astros some speed off the bench and a bat with some power, though Fisher did strike out 54 times in 166 plate appearances. White gives the Astros a right-handed bat off the bench against Boston lefties who plays multiple positions. White hit .279 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 61 at-bats this year.