Max Scherzer is “unlikely” to pitch in the postseason after injury

Max Scherzer, the man the Texas Rangers hoped would stabilize their rotation for a major playoff push, will miss the remainder of the regular season, Rangers general manager Chris Young announced Wednesday. Scherzer left his start Tuesday night with what he described as a triceps cramp, and an MRI scan revealed a mild strain on the teres major muscle in his shoulder. He is not expected to require surgery, Young told the Dallas Morning-News. But according to Young, it’s “unlikely” he’ll pitch in the postseason.

The setback comes at a difficult time for the Rangers, who enter Wednesday night’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays clinching the second wild-card spot in the American League, just a half-game ahead of the Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners .

The Rangers acquired Scherzer from the New York Mets at the trade deadline and dealt highly regarded prospect Luisangel Acuña. They hoped this move would fill the remaining void left when another high-profile former Met, Jacob deGrom, was sidelined early in the season with an elbow injury. Scherzer went 4-2 with a 3.20 ERA in eight starts and 45 innings for the Rangers, who needed every single one of those innings to stop an August skid that left them out of first place in the American League West pushed out and was in danger of being in the playoffs.

Max Scherzer takes his fight with Father Time to the Rangers

But for a team that has now lost not one, but two Cy Young-caliber starters to injury, the Rangers’ rotation isn’t exactly doomed. They still have hardened veteran Nathan Eovaldi, righty Jon Gray, righty Dane Dunning and deadline acquisition Jordan Montgomery available. They had so much pressure in their rotation that left-hander Martín Pérez, an all-star last season, was thrown into the bullpen. Andrew Heaney has also been pushed out of the rotation and could take Scherzer’s place. Then again, none of them have three Cy Young Awards and a World Series title under their belt like Scherzer.

For the 39-year-old, the setback is the latest – and perhaps most worrying – in a nasty series of injuries from which he appears unable to escape. After appearing on the injured list just once in six and a half seasons with the Washington Nationals, he has had more problems since then. He landed on the injured list twice in 2022 with oblique strains, then missed the start of this season with back pain and a neck spasm. Several times this season he has had to postpone a start or rearrange his schedule because of neck spasms.

Scherzer emphasized how important it is to avoid an arm injury. On a day when his neck felt tight, he paused starts when the oblique pulled or pushed back because the bottoming out could compromise his mechanics, which in turn could endanger his arm. He could cope with oblique loads. Neck tension would decrease. But arm injuries are something different.

When he left his start last week with what he described as a tightness in his forearm, it felt far more threatening than any of the scrapes and bruises that had put him out of the race in previous starts. The fact that he made his start on Tuesday seemed like a good sign that he might have escaped the worst. But as he walked away from that start reporting a triceps cramp, one he later said was likely related to the forearm problem, it became clear that Scherzer was experiencing something he had never experienced before: arm discomfort, a pitcher’s worst nightmare.

From that perspective, Wednesday’s news hardly represents the worst-case scenario. It appears that, for now, Scherzer has avoided the kind of elbow problems that are often predicted by tightness in the forearm. The teres major is located below the shoulder blade in the upper back. No surgery is currently required for repair. A break in the off-season should be enough.

If anyone is curious about how a teres major injury might impact an aging future Hall of Fame starter, Scherzer’s former Mets teammate Justin Verlander can provide a handy case study: Verlander suffered a mild teres major during spring training -Strain. and by early May he was back on the Mets’ roster. If Scherzer had suffered the injury in June, for example, his season might not have ended. Maybe the Rangers can extend their season until the end of October… well, who knows. At the moment it looks like Scherzer simply needs more time than the season offers him. Max Scherzer is “unlikely” to pitch in the postseason after injury

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