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Max Scherzer injury update: Rangers ace feels ‘normal’ before simulated game, teases pitch count ahead of ALCS

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The Texas Rangers advanced to the American League Championship Series on Tuesday night after completing a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles. The Rangers will now await the winner of the Division Series between the Houston Astros and the Minnesota Twins. The Astros lead that series 2-1, meaning that they could punch their own ticket to the next round with a victory on Wednesday.

One question now facing the Rangers is whether or not they’ll have Max Scherzer available to them during the ALCS. Scherzer has not pitched since Sept. 12 after suffering a strained teres major muscle in his right shoulder. That injury was supposed to sideline him for up to two months, yet he’s continued to throw with an eye on rejoining the Rangers staff. Based on what Scherzer and manager Bruce Bochy said on Tuesday, it seems like a real possibility. 

“Hopefully, that is the case,” Bochy said when he was asked about Scherzer being part of the ALCS roster. “We’ve got a little time here. See where we’re at with Max. We’ve missed him. He’s been throwing well. I thought he threw well to hitters not too long ago, but didn’t want to risk putting him in this series. Give him time to build up. We’ll continue to do that and see where we’re at.”

Scherzer, who posted a 3.20 ERA (140 ERA+) and a 3.53 strikeout-to-walk ratio in eight starts after joining the Rangers at the trade deadline, is slated to pitch a simulated game on Wednesday afternoon, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.

“Everything felt ‘normal’ normal today,” Scherzer told Grant after Game 3. “This was best-case scenario. I can come out here [Wednesday], throw a simulated game in a controlled environment and build up more arm strength.”

Observant readers will note both Bochy and Scherzer referenced the idea of “building up,” an indication that they view the pitcher as a starter, not a reliever. 

It should be noted that the Rangers have another injured starter inching his way closer to a return. Veteran right-hander Jon Gray, on the shelf since Sept. 25 because of a wrist injury, could get back on a mound during the break. It’s unclear if Gray is more or less likely to be part of the ALCS roster than Scherzer.

Either way, the Rangers will have a few days to assess both before making a call.

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