Livescore Thursday, April 25

The Rangers have been one of the biggest stories of the 2023 season. Texas enters the month of June in first place in the AL West, leading the reigning World Series champion Astros.

Perhaps most impressive? The Rangers have largely done it without the biggest move of the 2023 offseason, free agent signee Jacob deGrom.

The former Mets hurler and two-time Cy Young winner has not pitched since April 28, when he left a start against the Yankees after just 3 2/3 innings due to an elbow injury. He had rebounded to his stellar form after a rough Ranger debut on Opening Day, during which he allowed five runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Phillies.

Since that outing, deGrom had pitched in five games and allowed four total earned runs (six total) across 26 2/3 frames, good for a 1.35 ERA. The Rangers were 6-0 in games started by deGrom.

The return of deGrom would have been about as impactful a midseason acquisition as just about anyone likely to be traded before August. However, the door was closed on that possibility Tuesday.

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Here’s what you need to know about deGrom’s eventual return to the Rangers rotation.

How long is Jacob deGrom out?

The Rangers announced Tuesday that deGrom will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the remainder of the season. deGrom told reporters his goal is to return before the end of the 2024 season, during which he will turn 36 years old.

On Monday, the Rangers officially moved deGrom from the 15-day injured list to the 60-day injured list. The righthanded flamethrower had been placed on the injured list for right elbow inflammation.

The move made deGrom ineligible to come off the IL until June 28, but any return this season is now off the table. General manager Chris Young had said being moved to the 60-day injured list did not indicate any setbacks, but it did display that he had not been progressing at the original pace expected. 

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“We wanted to make sure [the inflammation]’s gone,” Young said, according to The Athletic. “That was a change from the physical MRI that he underwent when we signed him. And so obviously, we want to see progress with that. But we also want to see progress in the symptoms and the ability to recover and bounce back and those things are equally important,” he added.

The Rangers have been the talk of the 2023 season, leading the AL West through the early part of June. Texas entered play on Monday 3 1/2 games ahead of the Astros with the second-best run differential in baseball at plus-152.

According to FanGraphs, the Rangers have the fourth-best pitching fWAR in baseball at 8.2. Nathan Eovaldi leads the team with 2.7 fWAR in 80.1 innings of work, while Dane Dunning and Jon Gray have provided the team with sub-3.00 ERAs as starters.

Jacob deGrom injury history

From 2015 to 2019, deGrom threw at least 191 innings in four of five seasons, including three straight 200-inning seasons from 2017-19. He also logged 68 innings in 12 starts in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. Since then, he has been plagued by injuries. 

deGrom has combined for just 32 starts and 186 2/3 innings of work from 2021 to 2023. He had tightness in his forearm during the 2021 season that wound up ending his season on July 7. In 2022, deGrom suffered a stress fracture in his right scapula that kept him off the mound until Aug. 2.

Rangers pitching depth

By moving deGrom to the 60-day IL, the Rangers were able to activate Spencer Howard from the 60-day injured list and put him back on the 40-man roster. Reliever Jonathan Hernandez was then sent down to allow Howard to return to the active 26-man roster. Howard will likely provide length to the bullpen after posting a 7.41 ERA as a starter in 2022.

With deGrom out, the rotation will continue to remain Eovaldi, Dunning, Gray, Andrew Heaney and Martin Perez. Cody Bradford will also be part of the team’s rotation, starting on Tuesday against St. Louis, while Glenn Otto, who was expected to be rotation depth heading into the season, could see some starts when he returns from the injured list.

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