Scherzer to start G3: 'You have to match the moment'

October 30th, 2023

PHOENIX -- Eight-time All-Star. Three-time Cy Young Award winner. is looking to add two-time World Series champion to his illustrious résumé in his 16th Major League season. 

The 39-year-old right-hander was tabbed to start Game 3 of the World Series for the Rangers against the D-backs on Monday at Chase Field.

“This is what you dream of when you're a kid,” Scherzer said on Sunday. “When you're a kid, you dream of hitting in the World Series, pitching in the World Series. You watched your idols do this in all the big games. … This is crazy to say it's my third World Series, but here I have another opportunity to live out my dream.”

The Rangers acquired Scherzer from the Mets two days before the Trade Deadline with hopes of having opportunities like this, too. Texas general manager Chris Young said at the time, “We landed the player that we felt like is going to help us get where we want to go this year.”

In eight regular-season starts with the Rangers, Scherzer went 4-2 and posted a 3.20 ERA before being sidelined in mid-September because of a right teres major muscle strain in his shoulder. He returned to start Games 3 and 7 of the American League Championship Series against the Astros, going 0-1 with a 9.45 ERA and pitching as deep as four innings.

“It's just getting better and better with him, which is the norm -- the command of all his pitches, arm strength,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I did go out and get him early, but he's been getting his work in. Took a good bullpen a couple of days ago. So [it] just takes time sometimes, and each time out I think he's just getting better.”

Scherzer said he can deliver his fastball at 100 percent. The question mark is what his pitch count will be; he reached 63 in Game 3 and 44 in Game 7. He also alleviated a “little cut” on his thumb with cotton and Super Glue, a solution he described as “a little arts and crafts in the training room at times, but that's what you've got to do.”

With these factors in play, Scherzer is keeping his approach against the D-backs simple: “Execute pitches.”

“They're a good team,” Scherzer said. “I understand, see the challenges they present. It's going to be a grind to be able to go against them. Absolutely respect them. They're playing great baseball. That's what happens when you get to this time of year. You have to execute at such a high level.”

Scherzer will be hungry to channel his fierce determination into another gutsy World Series performance -- this time against the franchise where his career began. The D-backs selected Scherzer with the 11th overall pick in the 2006 Draft. They traded him to Detroit after the 2009 season, and he appeared in his first Fall Classic with the Tigers in 2012. He returned to win it all with the Nationals in ‘19. In three career World Series games, Scherzer is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA across 16 1/3 innings with 18 strikeouts to eight walks.

“You have to match the moment,” Scherzer said. “This is a big game. Obviously you're playing for the World Series; you've got to match that. You've got to be aggressive and go out there and attack. From the ‘19 run, we found out, ‘Hey, you can win every game on the road, that is possible.’ And I've done it twice, so that's pretty cool. … You're never out of these things. You've got to grind all the way to the end.”

Bochy and the Rangers have watched Scherzer deliver high-level postseason performances from a distance. Now, he will be alongside them as they try to take a 2-1 series lead on opposing territory.

“I appreciate the gifts and talents that great players have,” Bochy said. “I love to get to know them a little bit, what makes them tick, what makes them so good, especially over a long period of time. They're all special in their own way.

“But it doesn't take you long to figure out why they have been successful. You have to have talent; it starts with that. But in our game, you've got to have mental toughness, you've got to be able to control your emotions, all those things. But you've got to put a lot of work in and a lot of preparation -- and he's all about that.”