Wednesday newsletter time: Max Scherzer set for Rangers, but for how long?
(AP photo/LM Otero)
ARLINGTON — Everybody on Tuesday wrote something about Max Scherzer, the Rangers’ scheduled starter tonight for Game 3.
His effort, for however long it lasts, will go a long way toward the Rangers taking a 3-0 lead in the American League Championship Series or the Astros getting back in the best-of-7 series.
But not even Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young winner who has been in just about every possible situation in his 16-year career, has any clue as to how he will do in his first start since Sept. 12.
That doesn’t sound particularly reassuring, but he’s not worried about how he will perform. He’s healthier than he’s been in quite a while and threw 68 pitches last week in a simulated game in which he said his arm stayed strong throughout.
Time for our best guess on two categories: batters faced and who replaces him.
Give me 11 batters faced. That’s one time through the batting order plus Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman at the top of the order a second time before the Rangers go to a left-hander to face Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker. That should get him into the third inning.
If the pitching change comes during an inning (bold prediction), Will Smith will face Alvarez and Tucker before giving way to a pitcher who could work multiple innings — right-hander Dane Dunning or left-handers Andrew Heaney, Martin Perez or Cody Bradford.
My guess of a short outing doesn’t mean I think Scherzer is going to get lit up. On the contrary. Maybe he dominates for 70 pitches and then refuses to give up the ball. No one should put that past him.
Is that realistic? No, but the Rangers will take whatever they can get.
All three Rangers home games for the ALCS are sellouts, and the assumption is that the majority of the fans will be Rangers fans.
However, even the players know, based on the regular season, that Astros fans will find their way into Globe Life Field.
Either way, expect noise. The team expects it and expects to feed off of it.
“I’ve seen it a couple of times here where they get pretty loud, especially in this indoor building they can get pretty loud, especially with this Texas battle,” Scherzer said. “It’s going to be pretty loud no matter what’s going on. I expect a pretty raucous atmosphere.”
The first two games at Minute Maid Park were sellouts, but the crowds weren’t particularly rambunctious. The Game 1 player introductions, for instance, weren’t as loud as the Rangers’ Game 3 introductions for the division series. It did get loud as the Astros nearly erased their big early deficit in Game 2.
Honestly, maybe Astros fans are a tad complacent. This is their seventh straight ALCS, after all. Houston fans did have a strong jersey game. Almost all of them were of current players. There weren’t any Marwin Gonzalez jerseys, in other words, like there are Rougned Odor jerseys still at Globe Life Field.
Rangers fans, by the way, showed well in the two games in Houston.
Game 4 starter TBD
The Rangers are waiting to see how Game 3 goes before selecting a starter for Game 4, manager Bruce Bochy said, in what could be a clinching game.
The biggest factor will be which bullpen arms the Rangers have to use tonight behind Scherzer. They could end up using one or two of starting candidates.
Heaney, Bradford, Perez and Dunning are all candidates. The Rangers used a Heaney-Dunning piggyback in Game 1 of the division series to get them through the six innings, and Bradford delivered 3 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 2 of the ALDS.
Perez hasn’t pitched since the regular season.
The Astros’ righty-heavy lineup could set up well for Dunning.
The impressive thing is he didn’t spill. Enjoy.
— Puppies 🐶 (@PuppiesIover) October 16, 2023
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org