Max Scherzer was going to interrupt Jack Leiter's Rangers stint before abrupt option

This is sort of a good news, bad news situation.
Texas Rangers pitcher Max Scherzer
Texas Rangers pitcher Max Scherzer / Mark Cunningham/GettyImages

UPDATE: Leiter was optioned to Triple-A on Friday after his poor Thursday start. The Rangers recalled pitcher Owen White from Round Rock as the corresponding move.

Jack Leiter's stint in the major leagues could be a short one, but not for the reasons you might think. Leiter made his big league debut on Thursday and went just 3.2 innings while allowing seven runs on eight hits and walking three batters. Leiter had a mixed bag of results during his first major league outing, but those types of struggles aren't necessarily unexpected.

However, Leiter may only have a handful starts remaining before being sent back to Triple-A Round Rock. Max Scherzer is reportedly ahead of schedule, and the former Cy Young Award winner could be back from the injured list as soon as early May.

Scherzer has been on the 15-day IL since the 2024 season began. The right-hander, who came to the Rangers at last year's trade deadline, has been recovering from a herniated disk and could begin a minor league rehab assignment soon.

Max Scherzer's return from the IL could interrupt Jack Leiter's stint with Rangers

Scherzer's original timeline had been sometime around June or July, but it appears as though he's further along in the rehab process and threw during live batting practice earlier this week when the Rangers were on the road against the Detroit Tigers. Scherzer is slated to throw upwards of 40 pitches on Friday.

While all of this is positive news for the Rangers and their fanbase, it's kind of a kick in the teeth to Leiter who was surely expecting a longer stay in the big leagues. After an impressive start for the Round Rock Express, the Rangers made the call and elevated Leiter to the active roster on Thursday.

Of course, with so many injuries already affecting Texas' rotation, a lot could happen between now and the time that Scherzer is back from the IL. Most recently, the Rangers lost starter Cody Bradford to a lower back strain. That allowed the Rangers to recall Cole Winn and insert Michael Lorenzen into the starting rotation.

If the new timeline holds, and Texas doesn't see another starter hit the IL, Rangers fans can expect a starting rotation of Scherzer, Lorenzen, Jon Gray, Nathan Eovaldi, and Andrew Heaney sometime next month. Jacob deGrom and Tyler Mahle are still on the 60-day IL, and Rangers fans shouldn't expect either one of those starters to return until much later this summer.

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