The Texas Rangers announced it is “unlikely” that Max Scherzer will pitch again in 2023.
While this news is the opposite of inviting, you might say that unlikely is the ideal word to describe this season.
It was unlikely they would land five starters on the All-Star roster. But they did. And, at one point, six Rangers were on the field at the same time. That’s about as unlikely as it gets.
It was unlikely they would not only recover from, but seem to thrive, when they lost Jacob deGrom for the season (and most of next) after just six starts.
It was, if we are being honest, unlikely deGrom would pitch more than a dozen starts anyway given his recent history. And that is not this year, that’s a dozen starts as a Ranger, ever. When they babied him in spring training, allowing him to pitch just a handful of innings, it was pretty obvious six games were about all they were going to get out of him this year.
It was unlikely that Dane Dunning would step into the rotation and pitch the way he did, making the Rangers forget about losing deGrom. It’s easy to forget something you never really had, though. Dunning was a guy who had never won a game on the road as a Ranger. Not only was he winning, he was in the top five in American League ERA for much of the season.
It was unlikely the Rangers bullpen could have been as monumentally bad as it’s been all season and the Rangers still held onto first place for nearly five months. It’s equally unlikely the Rangers could have assembled that many awful arms in one bullpen at one time.
It was unlikely they would build a huge lead and then, in a matter of weeks, watch it all evaporate, then, just as quickly, they would right the ship, win five in a row, and fight back into the middle of the playoff, and division, hunt. Last week, it seemed unlikely this team would finish the season at .500. Last night they won their eighty-first game of 2023, guaranteeing they will, indeed, finish at or above .500 for the first time in seven seasons.
It was unlikely that Corey Seager would make a legitimate run at the American Most Valuable Player award, but he is. He’s leading all of baseball in batting average, and is leading the American League in doubles, despite missing forty-two games.
It was unlikely, given the Rangers lack of success drafting and developing players over the past two decades, that Josh Jung would make a legitimate run at the American League Rookie of the Year, until his injury. And it seems he will be back sooner than expected. How unlikely is that?
Which leads us back to Max Scherzer. He left his start Tuesday with a low-grade strain of his right teres major muscle. It is unlikely he will pitch again in 2023. How likely was it that he would be a Rangers this season in the first place?
The Rangers have seventeen games left. And, quite possibly, playoffs.
No deGrom. No Scherzer. Who knows what they will get out of Eovaldi. It’s going to be up to Gray, Heaney, and Dunning to step up and carry this team the rest of the way.
Is it unlikely?
Maybe. But they’ve gotten this far somehow.