BOSTON (CBS) —  The Red Sox are catching a big break ahead of their ALCS matchup with the Astros. A strained forearm will reportedly keep Houston ace Lance McCullers out of the series.

That’s a huge development in favor of Boston, one day ahead of Game 1 of the series. McCullers is likely out for the ALCS, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, who reports that the righty may be able to return should Houston advance to the World Series.

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That will be considerably tougher for the Astros without their top starter. McCullers went 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA during the regular season, and was 1-0 in his two starts against the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS. He shut Chicago down for 6.1 innings in Game 1 of that series, and allowed one run off five hits and three walks over four innings in Houston’s series-clinching Game 4 win on Tuesday.

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McCullers did not pitch against Boston during the regular season this year, but is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in five career starts against the Red Sox.

With McCullers out of the mix, Astros manager Dusty Baker will likely turn to some combination of Luis Garcia, Zack Greinke, Jose Urquidy and Framber Valdez as his starting rotation against the Red Sox.

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Game 1 of the series is set for Friday night at Minute Maid Park, with first pitch scheduled for 8:07pm.

CBSBoston.com Staff