Thursday newsletter time: Rangers keep rolling after getting tough Max Scherzer news
(Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
The teres major isn’t as big of a muscle as the name makes it sound, but if a pitcher strains his teres major, even if it’s not a major strain, it’s a big deal.
It’s a big enough deal to shut down ace right-hander Max Scherzer, who was injured Tuesday night and on Wednesday learned that his regular season is over. His availability for the postseason, should the Rangers make it, is in doubt.
After watching the Rangers the past three nights, it sure seems like they’re going to the playoffs.
Nate Lowe and Mitch Garver launched three-run homers, Robbie Grossman delivered a two-run shot and Jordan Montgomery allowed only four hits in seven innings as the Rangers blew past the Blue Jays 10-0.
The Rangers’ fifth straight victory kept them in the second wild-card spot, a half-game ahead of Seattle and 1 1/2 games ahead of Toronto. The series opened Monday with the Blue Jays 1 1/2 games up on the Rangers for the third wild-card spot.
The Astros won Wednesday, keeping their American League West lead over the Rangers at one game.
The Rangers play at Rogers Centre again tonight before flying to Cleveland for a three-game weekend series. They are playing without Josh Jung, Adolis Garcia and Scherzer (and Jacob deGrom for three months now), but they continue to show plenty of resilience.
“Not having a chance to compete is tough for him and it’s tough for us as a unit,” Lowe said. “But we’ve got other good arms that are dying to get the ball, and we’ve got some guys that we believe in.”
The offense has been rolling since Sunday after a 3-2 squeaker Saturday against the A’s. The Rangers have scored 35 runs the past four games after scoring 10 runs the four games before the spurt. The starter has pitched into at least the sixth inning in all three games against the Blue Jays, and that’s big, too.
On Wednesday, Montgomery, Perez and Ian Kennedy didn’t allow a base runner to reach second base. The Rangers hadn’t pulled that off since 2017.
“Huge,” Bochy said. “He had four pitches going and had command of them. Now we get the bullpen a little bit more in order. A terrific job by him. That’s usually where it starts. If we get quality pitching we like our chances.”
Filling in for Scherzer
The Rangers need a starter Sunday for the series finale at Cleveland, and general manager Chris Young said that left-handers Perez, Andrew Heaney and Cody Bradford are candidates to fill in for Scherzer the rest of the season.
Perez worked a quick eighth inning Wednesday night and would be available Sunday. A determining factor could be the bullpen usage tonight behind Nathan Eovaldi, who is making his third start since coming off the injured list and could be stretched out to four innings.
Heaney and Bradford should be available. If one pitches three innings, he would be eliminated from the Sunday start.
None of the three is as good as Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young winner who was added in a trade with the Mets two days before the trade deadline. If there is good news it’s that he doesn’t need surgery and should be available to start spring training.
“I’m glad it’s not worse. That’s really good,” Scherzer told reporters in Toronto. “From here, I’ve got to listen to what my body says. When I can throw a ball, I’ll throw a ball.”
Scherzer went 4-2 with a 3.20 ERA in eight starts following the trade.
Jung to Arizona
The Rangers dispatched Jung to Arizona on Wednesday so that he can have an exam with the surgeon who operated on his broken left thumb last month. However, Jung won’t be coming off the injured list this weekend.
He’s going to slide over to the Surprise Recreation Campus to get in some baseball activity rather than just taking the plunge back into major-league competition. The Rangers are holding fall instructs, so there will be some pitchers there who could throw Jung live batting practice and plenty of coaches who can help him get his swing dialed in as much as possible.
As much as Jung is needed in the lineup, a few days of tuning things up will serve him and the Rangers well. He is ahead of schedule, and the Rangers’ fortunes have changed in the matter of a few days.
This is the right move.
The Rangers against the Blue Jays so far this week. Enjoy.
— out of context dogs (@contextdogs) September 13, 2023
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org