At 12-11, the Texas Rangers currently sit atop the AL West, not that they've been dominant early this season. Up until this weekend, the offense had been humming along nicely, though the pitching staff has been questionable. The Rangers rank 22nd in ERA (4.34) and 25th in pitcher WAR (1.1). The bullpen (0.1 WAR) deserves most of the blame.

Pitching help is on the way though. Max Scherzer, who has not pitched this season after having back surgery in December, threw 40 pitches in a simulated game Friday, and will begin his rehab assignment this week, making his first start Wednesday with the Triple-A Round Rock Express. Regarding his current status and path forward, here's what Scherzer told the Dallas Morning News last week:

"I want to remove all that 'ahead of schedule,' 'early,' — all of that lingo," he said. "No, I have not been experiencing the symptoms that most people experience, outside of the surgery. I have felt normal. I turned the corner here a couple of weeks ago. Everything I'm doing, in terms of throwing, I'm recovering from it normally. My body feels good. So I'm just ramping up like normal right now. This is not me pushing anything. I'm not trying to cut a single corner."  

Unless the Rangers bring him back with a limited pitch count, Scherzer is likely to need at least three rehab starts counting Wednesda's. That would put him on track to return in early May. Texas has opted not to put Scherzer on the 60-day injured list, which leaves open the possibility of him coming back sometime before May 28.

Texas has received strong work from veteran righties Nathan Eovaldi and Jon Gray this season, though the rest of the rotation has been hit or miss and hasn't provided much length. Scherzer is no longer in his prime, but he did make 27 starts with a 3.77 ERA last season. As long as he's healthy, there are reasons to believe he can still be an effective starter.

The Rangers are also without Jacob deGrom and Tyler Mahle, both of whom are rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and are expected back in the second half. Lefty Cody Bradford is on the injured list with a back strain as well.