How Max Scherzer injury muddies star-crossed Rangers' playoff push


Wednesday should have been a day of celebration for baseball fans from North Texas. After a recent streak of losing 16 out of 20 games, Rangers’ freefall was over. Toronto was a welcome respite. Dane Dunning beat Chris Bassitt to give Texas the third wild card spot on Monday. Max Scherzer’s 5.1 scoreless inning helped the Rangers surpass the Blue Jays in an exciting race a day later. The Rangers gained momentum. Then came the latest defeat. Before claiming their third victory of the series, and their fifth consecutive win overall, Wednesday — a 100-0 thrashing, the grim news was delivered: Scherzer is unlikely to be back this year, after leaving Tuesday’s early.

With a pitch in the 6th inning and one out, rotation’s top acquisition lobbed a curveball for a strike. The Rangers’ catcher, Jonah Heim, paused as he prepared to throw a return. Scherzer’s wince and brief pitter-pattering around the mound indicated that something was wrong.

Scherzer thought it was a triceps cramp. He thought he would be able to manage the tightening of the muscle while warming up before the inning. To begin the inning, he fought through a seven pitch at-bat against George Springer. After his first pitch, he felt a more shocking charley horse sensation. Scherzer said to reporters that it was suddenly in his tricep and back of his shoulder. “I had a similar cramping feeling before, but you work it out and then you go. When I got on the mound, and tried to do my motions, I knew it wasn’t releasing. “

When the release still wasn’t complete by the end of the game, it prompted a further investigation. Scans revealed that Scherzer will be sidelined during the regular season due to a teres strain. General manager Chris Young also told reporters that Scherzer’s injury would likely keep him out of the postseason, which will put a damper on the Rangers’ recent upswing. Max Scherzer leaves game against Blue Jays with right triceps cramp.

Scherzer wonders if recent forearm tension might have put more strain on his triceps.

Scherzer wondered whether the tightness in the forearm he experienced during previous outings may have caused the spasm. It’s another blow to the snakebitten Rangers who just can’t seem get anything nice. The Rangers added the three-time Cy Young Award-winner at the deadline in order to have another ace, after losing Jacob deGrom (a two-time Cy Young Award-winner) for the season. They have neither. They have experienced the highs and lows of their high risk, high reward veteran offseason spending. After spending over $200 million on deGrom and Andrew Heaney last offseason to upgrade their starting pitching, the Mets broke their bank a year earlier on their middle-infield. DeGrom had six brilliant starts before requiring Tommy John surgery. Heaney was a top pitcher in baseball at the end May, but he has been relegated into the bullpen. Eovaldi, who was one of baseball’s best pitchers during the first half of the season, missed the entire month of August due to a forearm injury. He is now trying to regain his former form in preparation for the final push. He’s one of five Rangers All-Stars who missed time in the second half. In late July, Corey Seager was placed on the injured list due to a thumb sprain. Josh Jung, a third baseman who was on his way to winning Rookie of the year honors, fractured his thumb a few weeks later. Heim has recovered from the wrist tendon injury he sustained in late July but his appearance is not what it was. Last week, the Rangers saw their RBI and home run leader Adolis Garca tear his right patellar tendons while trying to catch a ball at the wall.

Unwillingly letting their financial commitments for the 2023 season, and their exceptional first half, go to waste the Rangers retooled before the deadline, adding Scherzer and Jordan Montgomery. The Rangers began August with an eight-game win streak, and won 12 of their 14 first games. On August 15, they were 3.5 games ahead of the Astros and 7.5 behind the Mariners in third place. Then, the plunge began. Even with Chapman in the bullpen, the Rangers’ weak bullpen was unable to hold a lead. Their revamped rotating began to crumble. The pitching staff had a 5.63 ERA in the last 30 days and was 3-for-13 on save opportunities. The end of August was devastating, and it bled over into the start of September. Scherzer was a shining light throughout the spiral. He allowed three runs or less in seven of eight starts as Ranger. His absence is all the more devastating for Texas’ rotation, who have had a starter pitch six innings twice in the last 14 games.

Jon Grey has a 7.13 ERA in his last four starts. Eovaldi has pitched 9.2 inning in the second half of the season. He looked like a Cy Young candidate at the time. Montgomery, who was a Cy Young contender in August with the Rangers and had a 2.30 ERA, allowed 11 runs in his first two September starts before bouncing right back with seven shutout inning on Wednesday. Heaney or Cody Bradford will be the likely candidates to fill Scherzer’s massive void, which was created by Scherzer’s departure. Rangers fans might have thought that their aces would lead them to their 1st playoff appearance in 7 years. The Rangers’ season can only be saved if their offensive resurgence is successful. Even with a reduced lineup, Texas’s recent turnaround has been fueled by the 38 runs scored over the last five games. Garcia’s absence led to the addition of Evan Carter, a top prospect who appears ready for his opportunity. Seager and Marcus Semien, both All-Stars, have an OPS of over 1.000 each in September. This is a month when Jung and Garcia could return. The race for a postseason spot is not going to get any easier. The top three teams of the AL West are separated by just one game, and the Rangers Mariners and Blue Jays all lie within 1.5 games for the two remaining wild-card spots. The second-placed team in the AL East – the Rays and Orioles begin a four game series on Thursday, FOX – will almost certainly occupy top wild card spot.

Scherzer will make the Rangers’ journey, as well as navigating the playoffs, much more difficult. This is not the team or rotation that they had envisioned. The offense is now humming again. Montgomery and Dunning’s recent performances are encouraging. And with 17 games left, everything that the Rangers paid out for remains in reach. He was previously the Dodgers editor for digital and print publications. Follow him on Twitter at


Rangers' Max Scherzer exits game with right triceps spasm vs. Blue Jays

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