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Rangers Notes: Smith, Scherzer, Sborz

Rangers utility man Josh Smith has been one of the club’s most potent offensive players this year, slashing .294/.384/.436 in 243 trips to the plate while splitting time between third base and shortstop. That performance was good for a wRC+ of 137, though Smith’s lofty .358 BABIP and relatively pedestrian .311 xwOBA both indicate that there may be some luck involved in those results.

However, Smith’s results may be luckier but it looks like he has earned plenty of playing time going forward. Although Smith has found himself sidelined in recent days, manager Bruce Bochy told reporters (including Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News) that Smith has been dealing with “the usual struggles” but has been holding hands with the team when healthy. It’s easy to see why the club will devote more playing time to Smith going forward, too. After all, that aforementioned 137 wRC+ is ten points ahead of the shortstop Corey Seager they led the group.

What perhaps makes things more difficult for Smith is that third guy Josh Jung he’s close to a rehab assignment and figures to get regular at-bats himself when he returns to the lineup. With Jung and Seager now playing almost every day on the left side of the infield, Smith’s most common spots will no longer be available to him. Still, there’s plenty of room for improvement on a Rangers roster that ranks just 23rd in the majors with a 93 wRC+ this year. Smith has experience in the outdoor area, and the four of them Evan Carter, Wyatt Langford, Adolis Garciaagain Leody Taveras they have not performed well to varying degrees this year at the plate. That should make it easier to work Smith in the outfield and DH mix regularly, though Grant also suggested Smith could take the reps early on. Nathaniel Lowe.

In other Rangers news, the veteran ace Max Scherzer threw 79 pitches for Triple-A Round Rock last night, striking out eight batters while allowing three runs in 4 2/3 innings of work. Bochy indicated to reporters (including’s Josh Kirshenbaum) before Scherzer’s start that it could be his last appearance before returning to the majors if all goes well. Barring some setbacks for Scherzer after last night’s start, it looks like he could be back in the Rangers’ rotation later this week.

The veteran right-hander’s return to the majors should provide a big boost to the Texas club, which has dealt with a number of injuries during its first run this year. Jacob deGrom, Tyler Mahleagain Cody Bradford all are currently on the 60-day IL alongside Scherzer, and the club has also spent time without each team. Nathan Eovaldi, John Gray, Dane Dunningagain Michael Lorenzen due to injuries this season. Left hand Andrew Heaney started the campaign in the bullpen but was almost replaced due to injury; in Scherzer’s return, he and Lorenzen appear to be the most likely players to join another pitcher Jose Urena in the group’s auxiliary force.

While Scherzer appears to be wrapping up his rehab assignment, another pitcher is about to begin a rehab assignment of his own: the right-hander. Josh Sborz, who has been sidelined since April with a rotator cuff strain. As noted on’s Injury Tracker, Sborz is set to begin a rehab assignment with Round Rock today. If the righty is about to return to the bullpen, he could give a shot in the arm to a Rangers bullpen that ranks sixth from the bottom among all major league clubs.

Sborz had a 1.69 ERA and 2.96 FIP in seven games prior to his assignment to the IL this year, and while the righty struggled to a 5.50 ERA in 2023, much of that was due to a surprisingly low 56.2% strikeout rate. . Sborz’s 30.7% strikeout rate, 3.75 FIP, 3.35 xERA, and 3.05 SIERA all point to the righty’s ability to be an impact relief arm for the Rangers. Texas currently relies on consolidation Kirby Yates, David Robertsonagain Jose Leclerc in the later innings.

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