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Rangers place SP Nathan Eovaldi on the IL with forearm strain

The acquisition of Max Scherzer couldn’t come at a better time for Texas, as Eovaldi will be out for the foreseeable future after battling arm discomfort over the last few weeks.

Nathan Eovaldi of the Texas Rangers throws a pitch in the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Globe Life Field on July 18, 2023 in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images

Suddenly the Texas Rangers’ urgency to land Max Scherzer on Saturday evening makes even more sense, as All-Star starter Nathan Eovaldi — who’d been a rock atop the team’s rotation in the wake of Jacob deGrom’s season-ending injury — was placed on the 15-day injured list on Sunday with what’s being described as a forearm strain.

Texas has yet to offer any sort of timeline for Eovaldi’s return. For whatever it’s worth, while the team has designated the injury as a forearm strain, both manager Bruce Bochy and the pitcher himself have described it as soreness on the outside of the righty’s elbow. Eovaldi’s MRI came back clean of any further structural damage, and Bochy emphasized that this is mostly about giving his ace some rest after carrying a heavy workload so far this season — but elbow injuries are elbow injuries, and it’s worth noting that the team also downplayed the severity of deGrom’s condition until he eventually needed Tommy John surgery.

The writing had been on the wall for here for some time now, ever since Eovaldi’s fastball velocity began to dip significantly late last month. The righty initially shrugged off any concern about a possible injury, saying only that he might be dealing with a bit of arm fatigue after averaging over seven innings per outing from April 29 to June 15 — including four outings of eight innings or more in a five-start stretch. To Eovaldi’s immense credit, he kept taking the ball and kept pitching well, spinning 13 shutout innings across two starts against the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays this month.

But it was abundantly clear that he wasn’t the same pitcher he was earlier in the season, and eventually the team decided to take action. Texas gave Eovaldi a few extra days of rest coming out of the All-Star break, then pushed his most recent turn in the rotation back multiple times. The righty’s health is far too important to the AL West-leading Rangers’ World Series hopes to let him try and pitch through it, so an IL stint seems like the prudent course of action to give Eovaldi the time he needs to get his arm right.

Still, it’s a big short-term blow to a Texas team that now finds itself in a dogfight with the Houston Astros atop the division. The blockbuster deal for Scherzer certainly helps, but he comes with injury questions of his own, and the options after that — Jon Gray, Dane Dunning, Andrew Heaney and Martin Perez — are pretty middling. Eovaldi had been far and away the team’s ace, with a 2.69 ERA and 1.011 WHIP that earned him his first career All-Star appearance. Multi-inning weapon Grant Anderson was recalled from Triple-A to take Eovaldi’s place on the roster, while Cody Bradford is taking his turn in the rotation on Sunday against the San Diego Padres.