HomeMLB RumorsMax Scherzer Ahead Of Schedule, Could Return In Early May

Max Scherzer Ahead Of Schedule, Could Return In Early May

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When Max Scherzer underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back in December, the Rangers announced that he would likely be on the shelf into late June. A few weeks ago, GM Chris Young indicated the team wasn’t going to place Scherzer on the 60-day injured list, however, as his rehab had progressed to the point that there was optimism he could return at some point in late May. That timetable has been pushed up even further now, it seems.

Shawn McFarland of the Dallas Morning News wrote this week that Scherzer will throw 40 pitches against live hitters Friday — his second session against live hitters this week. McFarland spoke with Scherzer following his first session, wherein he faced Ezequiel Duran, Andrew Knizner and Davis Wendzel. The three-time Cy Young winner said he threw all his pitches and “stepped on it” in that first session. In a video piece for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal reports the Rangers are hoping Scherzer will be ready as soon as early May.

It’s a fairly remarkable recovery and a welcome bit of good news for a Rangers club that opened the year with Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Tyler Mahle on the injured list — only to lose lefty Cody Bradford to an IL stint of his own after an excellent three-start run to begin his season. Texas called former No. 2 overall pick Jack Leiter to the big leagues today, but his debut effort didn’t go as hoped; Leiter was tagged for seven runs in just 3 2/3 innings. The Rangers have also seen veteran lefty Andrew Heaney yield nine runs in a dozen innings with particularly worrying command issues: seven walks and three hit batters.

The ostensible hope among Rangers brass for much of the offseason was that in-house arms like Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, Dane Dunning and the aforementioned Bradford could help patch things together until veterans deGrom, Scherzer and Mahle returned. Though lefty Jordan Montgomery was hopeful of a return to the Rangers in free agency, ownership never seemed inclined to dole out a contract matching the magnitude of his asking price — either in total length/dollars or on a per-year basis once it became clear he was amenable to shorter-term arrangement. Texas did make a late move to add Michael Lorenzen at a bargain $4.5MM price point, and he’s recently joined the rotation after building up in Triple-A.

For now, the quartet of Eovaldi, Gray, Dunning and Lorenzen seem set in stone. It’s not clear whether Leiter will get another start or was merely called up for a one-off appearance. Regardless of the short-term plans, if Scherzer is indeed able to return in the first week or two of May, that could push both Leiter and Heaney out of the rotation mix, barring injuries elsewhere on the staff.

Scherzer, 39, is in the final season of a three-year, $130MM contract originally signed with the Mets. He’s owed $43.333MM this season, though the Rangers are only on the hook for $12.5MM of that sum as part of last July’s trade sending him from Queens to Arlington. Though not the clear-cut No. 1 starter he once was, Scherzer wasn’t far off vintage form following that deadline swap. In eight starts with the Rangers, he pitched to a 3.20 ERA with a 29.9% strikeout rate and 8.5% walk rate. He also missed the final three weeks of the season with a teres major strain, however, and struggled in three postseason starts upon returning (seven runs, 11 hits, five walks, seven strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings).


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