Scherzer and Gray added to ALCS roster as Rangers starters against Astros

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Texas Rangers' Mike Maddux smiles during batting practice before Game 1 of the baseball AL Championship Series against the Houston Astros Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

HOUSTON – Texas Rangers starters Max Scherzer and Jon Gray were included on the roster for the AL Championship Series against the Houston Astros starting Sunday night.

Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, has been out since Sept. 12 because of a muscle strain in his shoulder.

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Scherzer, who was traded from the New York Mets this summer, said he was “ready to go” after throwing a bullpen session and participating in fielding drills Friday.

Gray returned after last pitching for the Rangers on Sept. 25. He had been dealing with tightness in his right wrist.

Manager Bruce Bochy indicated Scherzer will start Game 3 or 4.

“Max, we’re looking at him to start. We’ll look at how we get through this game. We can be flexible with Game 3 and 4 with him,” Bochy said before the ALCS opener. “If needed, tonight we could use him. ... We’d like to stay away from him. But trust me, he’ll have his spikes on.”

Bochy said Gray isn't stretched out and is expected to pitch out of the bullpen, but he didn't completely rule out the right-hander maybe starting a game later in the series.

For the Astros, their only change from the Division Series was replacing outfielder Jake Meyers with right-handed reliever Ronel Blanco. Manager Dusty Baker announced Saturday that reliever Kendall Graveman will not be on the roster as he deals with discomfort in his right shoulder.

Astros general manager Dana Brown said Blanco provides length and flexibility in the bullpen and the team thought it needed go with 13 pitchers for the best-of-seven series. As for Graveman, who last pitched Sept. 30, the GM said he is getting better.

“This would be like if it was a regular season it would be a 10-day IL stint with maybe some extra time,” Brown said. “I think, from talking to Graveman, he feels a little bit better, just not good enough to go on this roster for this round. So I still think there’s hope, if we get beyond this, that it will be fine, he’ll be good to go.”

To make room for Scherzer and Gray, the Rangers removed left-hander Brock Burke and right-hander Matt Bush from the roster.

Scherzer is 7-7 with a 3.58 ERA in 27 postseason games that include 22 starts. When he appears for Rangers, it will be the fifth team he has pitched for in the postseason after Detroit, Washington, the Dodgers and the Mets.

While with Washington, he started Games 1 and 7 of the 2019 World Series against the Astros. He got the win in Game 1 and didn’t factor in the decision in Game 7, won by the Nationals at Minute Maid Park. He had a 3.60 ERA over 10 innings in that series.

He went 1-1 against Houston this season. He struck out eight and allowed one run in eight innings on June 19. But the Astros tagged him for seven runs, all of those coming on three homers, in three innings on Sept. 6.

Gray went 9-8 with a 4.12 ERA in 29 starts this season.

Each team has 13 position players and 13 pitchers on its roster.

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