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Monday newsletter time: Max Scherzer dominates before playing things safe

(Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports)

 

 

Max Scherzer retired the first 12 Royals hitters Sunday and retired 15 of the 16 batters he faced in his 2024 debut.

He needed only 57 pitches to toss five scoreless innings after throwing 79 pitches June 15 at Triple A Round Rock. Pitching in a major-league game is a much different beast, with adrenaline pumping and every pitch intense.

Removing him made a lot of sense.

The Rangers won 4-0, sweeping the Royals and minimizing any criticism of the early hook. Scherzer then eliminated it all together, while also raising some concerns going forward.

Scherzer said that while his baseball instincts were telling him to keep going, his brain told him that he doesn’t know how the nerve in his hand is going to respond to five big-league innings. It was time to stop pitching.

If you think that’s ominous, read what Scherzer had to say.

“I just don’t know how I’m going to recover from this with the thumb issues,” the three-time Cy Young winner said. “It’s still there. I did feel fatigue in my forearm. I just don’t know how I’m going to recover from this. That’s been the issue at hand here. After the fifth inning, we felt like we got enough work and felt like we’re in a good spot. That was kind of my line.”

The Rangers don’t have an off day until July 1, so Scherzer will have to make his next start on normal rest. Aware of that, he didn’t want to push anything. He not only agreed with the decision to take him out with a one-hit shutout but was an active participant.

At 39, he knows the ropes and knows his body. He just doesn’t know a lot about his radial nerve.

Answers will come today and Tuesday, when he should make his between-starts bullpen session. Scherzer showed a loss of grip strength after his June 15 start, and the Rangers weren’t willing to announce Scherzer as their Sunday starter until Saturday.

The health uncertainty aside, Scherzer was masterful on the mound. He commanded all of his pitches and took advantage of an aggressive Royals lineup. Scherzer reached 94 mph with his fastball, which was good enough with his ability to locate his off-speed pitches.

If pulling him after five or six innings is what it takes to keep Scherzer healthy and effective, that might be the script the Rangers follow.

“We’re not putting any expectations on him,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We want him to go out there and give us a chance to win. That’s all we’re looking for. Max is a smart guy. He knows himself better than anybody, knows where he’s at in his career. It’s good to have him out there. His presence is good for the club, I think.”

Just enough

The Rangers scored three times in the fourth that allowed Scherzer to leave with the lead and ultimately pick up the win. Wyatt Langford delivered again with an RBI double, and Leody Taveras’ blooper dropped for a two-run single.

Josh Smith swatted another home run in the seventh to cap the scoring. That run might have convinced the Rangers to allow Jose Ureña to finish off the game to earn a four-inning save.

The Rangers scored 16 runs during the three-game sweep. They hit the ball out of the ballpark, they delivered with two outs and they delivered with the bases loaded, which had been a sticking point this season.

A few other potentially encouraging signs developed: Adolis Garcia had a hit in each game, which is progress, and Nathaniel Lowe collected five hits in the series. If those two get going behind Marcus Semien and Corey Seager and ahead of the red-hot Langford, the offense is going to keep scoring.

Promotion day

Word started to trickle out Sunday evening that Low A Down East right-hander Alejandro Rosario has been promoted to High A Hickory. He won’t be the only player in the system on the move.

The Rangers informed several minor-leaguers that they had earned a bump. Down East left-hander Kohl Drake and third baseman Gleider Figuereo are strong candidates to join Rosario in Hickory, and Hickory right-hander Winston Santos could be headed to Double A Frisco.

Frisco right-hander Emiliano Teodo could stay put for now. While he’s throwing more strikes this season, there is some concern that that automated ball-strike system might be a detriment to Teodo.

The Rangers also have him on the radar for potential big-league bullpen help later in the season, but that decision won’t be made until after the trade deadline.

ICYMI …

A 4-2 homestand that started 0-2? The Rangers will gladly take it as they head on the road to face to postseason contenders, the Brewers and the Orioles. All four games at Baltimore are night games, including the finale on Sunday Night Baseball. I guess ESPN really wanted the American League Division Series rematch. Rangers Today will keep plugging along. Follow along by getting full access here. Here is a sampling of our latest content, in case you missed it.

The Sunday Read: Turnaround?

Friday on the Farm: Notes from the minor leagues

The Boys of Arlington: Witt and Wild

Injury updates

First time finding the seats

Doggy video!

Wasted no time.  Enjoy.

Watch today’s video here.

Jeff Wilson, jeff@rangerstoday.com

Jeff Wilson

Sports reporter for two decades. Sports fan for life. Covers the Texas Rangers. Graduate of TCU. Colorado native. Author of Purple Passion: TCU Football Legends (https://t.co/2fmXLyympx). Follow me on Twitter at @JeffWilsonTXR

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1 Comment

  1. Boo June 24, 2024

    I’ll take 5 or 6 out of Scherzer every start, that’s an average amount for most starters anyway.

    Reply

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