Scherzer departs Game 3 start with back tightness

October 31st, 2023

PHOENIX -- Rangers ace  was in the midst of what could have been his best start of the postseason Monday night at Chase Field, but it abruptly came to an end in the fourth inning of Game 3 of the World Series with what the club announced as back tightness.

Right fielder  exited prior to the ninth inning of Texas’ 3-1 win over the D-backs with soreness in his left side after grimacing during his eighth-inning at-bat.

The Rangers, who took a 2-1 series lead over the D-backs, hope to have more information on both players prior to Game 4 on Tuesday night.

Scherzer said postgame that he was removed after feeling back spasms in the third inning. He first felt something on a slider to Arizona third baseman Evan Longoria. He then issued a two-out walk to Corbin Carroll, but he got out of the situation without any damage.

Scherzer threw two warmup pitches ahead of the fourth inning before leaving with trainer Matt Lucero after three scoreless frames.

“By [the time I got to] Carroll, it was starting to tighten up more,” Scherzer explained. “I was able to get [Ketel] Marte out, thank God, but in between innings is when it locked up. We tried [to treat it]. There just wasn't any way for me to release that spasm. This is going to take a couple days.”

In the second inning, a 92.6-mph comebacker off the bat of Alek Thomas hit Scherzer on his elbow, but third baseman Josh Jung fielded the ball to get the final out of the frame. Scherzer insisted that the back spasms were not related to the comebacker.

Scherzer has experience with this type of ailment, as he was scratched from a Game 5 start in the 2019 World Series with the Nationals due to neck and back spasms. He returned to start Game 7 that year. 

“Look at that -- I was able to snap out of that in just 72 hours,” Scherzer said. “So there's history here that the spasms can go away and can go away quickly. In 48 hours, we'll know. These things can come and they lock up, but if you treat it right, you can be ready to go in a couple days.”

Scherzer -- whom the Rangers acquired at the Trade Deadline from the Mets -- was sidelined for six weeks with a teres major strain in his right shoulder to close out the regular season. He returned from the injured list to make two starts in the American League Championship Series against the Astros, allowing seven runs in 6 2/3 innings. 

In eight regular-season starts with Texas, Scherzer went 4-2 with a 3.20 ERA.

García, the Rangers’ ALCS MVP, has been a vital part of the club’s offensive success this postseason. In 15 games, he has hit .323 with a 1.108 OPS after an 0-for-3 night in Game 3. Travis Jankowski and Robbie Grossman are Texas' options to start if García isn't able to go in Game 4.

“Right now, we're going to just evaluate them,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Doli will get some diagnostics done. See where he's at. Left side tightness. We're being optimistic there, but we'll know more tomorrow.

“The same with Max. Max took a pretty good shot on the elbow. That's what we were concerned about. But it was his low back that tightened up on him. He just couldn't go anymore. The same with him; we'll see where he's at in the next 24 hours and decide where we're at with him.”