The Texas Rangers won a tense game three with outstanding defense and a timely home run from Corey Seager as written about by West Jones. The story after the game was about how the injury bug once again hit this team at the worst time. Max Scherzer started the game but had to be removed with what he said was back spasms. Adolis Garcia had a tremendous outfield assist in the second inning but was removed after the top of the eighth with left-side tightness. Texas as they have done for much of the season may have to find a way to win this series without the ALCS MVP and a future Hall of Famer. What options does Texas have and is there a way for one or both of Scherzer and Garcia to come back?
What options are there if Scherzer and Garcia are out?
The hope has to be that Scherzer is able to recover and potentially start a game seven and that Garcia with rest and treatment on Tuesday are will be able to play in game four and beyond. There will be meetings about what to do if one or both players have to be replaced on the roster.
Lets start with Scherzer. If Scherzer is removed from the roster, he will most likely be replaced by a bullpen arm. The top three options are Brock Burke, Matt Bush, or Grant Anderson. Each of those three have been on the playoff roster for at least one of the rounds. I would think of those three it would probably be Matt Bush. He has not pitched in a major league game since July when he was with Milwaukee. He does still pitch with good velocity and does not have command issues. Bush can pitch in the middle or late innings if necessary. If Scherzer is removed then his game seven start will likely go to Jon Gray or whichever arm is fresh. Scherzer did say this after the game about his back spasms,
"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"- Max Scherzer
Now lets talk about Adolis Garcia and his injury and what options Texas has. Garcia took a mighty swing in the eighth inning and immediately after making contact grabbed at his left side. He was removed from the game and slowly walked into the clubhouse and training room. After the game Bruce Bochy was asked about both players and this is what he had to say about Garcia's injury,
"Doli will get some diagnostics done, we'll see where he’s at. Left side tightness, we’re being optimistic there, but we’ll know more tomorrow"- Bruce Bochy
The team is being optimistic as Bochy said in that quote. Texas has had some injury luck throughout this season. Gray was hit by a line drive earlier in the season and did not miss a start after being removed from the game. Garcia on the injury suffered against Houston in September reacted as if it was a season-ending injury. Instead, he was back before the end of the season and has been one of their best players in this postseason run. Bochy is hoping this injury breaks their way once again.
If Garcia is out though then Texas has a few options to replace him on the roster. In the series, he would likely be immediately replaced in the lineup by Robbie Grossman or Travis Jankowski. On the roster, he would probably be replaced by Ezequiel Duran or Sam Huff. Neither has played in a game or had an at-bat in a game since September. I think the call would be Duran. He can play multiple positions and could be a pinch-hitting option late in games if Arizona brings in a left-hander.
Could Scherzer and Garcia return in this series?
Scherzer will know more he said in about 48 hours. If his back loosens up then he could remain on the roster and either start in game seven or be a bullpen option in game six or seven. Texas would probably prefer to keep Scherzer on the roster if he is healthy. He was effective in game three. He threw three scoreless innings and was poised to go probably four or five innings in the game. I would imagine Texas may wait it out until the off-day unless they decide they need a bullpen arm and are willing to lose Scherzer. If Texas does not make a move today to bring in an arm then I would expect Max to remain on the roster until game six.
Garcia can absolutely come back. There is precedent in Texas Rangers prior postseasons where a player suffered an oblique injury and came back by the end of the series. In 2015, Adrian Beltre suffered a back injury in game one against Toronto. Texas did not replace him and he was in the starting lineup for game five. The options to replace Garcia are so unattractive that Texas might be willing to give him time. If they think he can be back for game six or seven then they will keep him on the roster, because his potential is greater than those who would replace him.
Both players have worked hard to get to this point. Scherzer in coming back from a shoulder injury that should have ended his season. Garcia in his career that started in Cuba, went to Japan, found his way to Texas, and is now excelling on the big stage. These two and this entire team are trying to give the fanbase and the organization something they have never experienced before and that is a World Series championship.
Texas is now two wins away with starts by Nathan Eovaldi and Jordan Montgomery to come. Texas is two wins away without their offense contributing at their expected level. Texas is two wins away from a World Series and now might have to do it with two players who helped them get to this point.