Scherzer has surgery on herniated disk, out until midseason

December 15th, 2023

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' need for starting pitching depth just became a little more apparent.  underwent surgery on his back for a herniated disk on Thursday, according to general manager Chris Young.

Young said Scherzer attempted several “conservative treatments in pain management,” but the pain never went away. Ultimately, it was determined that surgery was the best course of action. Young did not give an exact timetable, but noted the surgery will delay Scherzer’s start to the season to at least June or July.

The 39-year-old ace was traded by the Mets to the Rangers at the Trade Deadline this past season for prospect Luisangel Acuña. He made eight starts for Texas down the stretch, going 4-2 with a 3.20 ERA.

Scherzer left Game 3 of the World Series with back spasms after three scoreless frames. At the time  he said was “pretty locked up.” He was ultimately removed from the World Series roster ahead of the series-clinching Game 5.

"After returning to my offseason home in Florida, my discomfort in my back continued to get worse,” Scherzer said in a statement. “During this time I received the diagnosis of a herniated disk.  After several conservative treatments and consulting with multiple specialists, I made the decision to have the recommended surgery. Getting this procedure done now will give me the best chance to pitch as much as possible for the Rangers in 2024. I look forward to putting in the rehab work and getting back on the mound next summer."

Scherzer has experience with back injuries. He was sidelined for a couple of weeks during the middle of the 2019 season with a back ailment and then was scratched from a Game 5 start in that year’s World Series with the Nationals due to neck and back spasms. He did return to start Game 7.

Scherzer missed the final six weeks of the 2023 regular season due to a muscle strain in his right shoulder but was able to make three postseason starts during the Rangers’ run to their first World Series title in franchise history.

Young said he doesn’t believe the shoulder injury and back injury are related. 

“I'll tell you this. Max, in my experience, has a very high threshold for pain, and he also knows his body really, really well,” Young said. “When he is feeling something, he's very open and honest about how he's feeling. I think it's been helpful for us to in terms of managing these things, 

The Rangers’ Opening Day rotation now lines up with Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, Dane Dunning, Andrew Heaney and Cody Bradford. Ace Jacob deGrom and newly signed Tyler Mahle are both expected to return from Tommy John around the same time as Scherzer. 

The Rangers also have Minor League depth with Owen White (No. 8 prospect, per MLB Pipeline), Cole Winn (No. 28) and Zak Kent (NR) all on the 40-man roster. But White is the only one with any big league experience after making two appearances last season. 

Young said that Scherzer’s injury doesn’t necessarily affect how active the Rangers will be in terms of acquiring starting pitching. 

“We had hoped to have a healthy Max Scherzer at the beginning of the season, obviously,” Young said. “That said, we also recognized that we were going to need pitching depth. I'm not sure it changes much in terms of building out that depth. It thins us out a little bit on the front half of the season…. Again, pitching will remain a focus and we'll continue to look for any way to improve our club.”

When asked if the club is looking to acquire at least one more “established” starter, Young said: “We are certainly not going to eliminate that possibility.”