Just as New York Mets fans thought they saw enough of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander this season, the two ex-Met aces will face off against one another for the first time in their Hall of Fame careers on Wednesday as Verlander’s Houston Astros play Scherzer’s Texas Rangers in Arlington.
It is a game with playoff implications, as both teams are locked in three-team American League races in the West and the Wild Card with the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays, respectively.
However, this is a different meaning for Mets fans, especially if both show vintage form.
Former New York Mets pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander facing off against one another reminds fans of how much of a letdown the 2023 season was.
The Mets entered this season with lofty expectations that their new set of aces in Max Scherzer and newly-signed Justin Verlander would stay healthy the whole year and put the Mets in a position to make a run in the postseason.
Both aces anchored a dominant Detroit Tigers starting rotation that went to the playoffs four years in a row as A.L. Central champions from 2011-2014. That was part of the beauty of replacing Jacob deGrom with Justin Verlander as the co-ace in the Mets rotation.
However, Verlander spent the first month of the season on the injured list with an arm issue, while Scherzer had trouble keeping the ball in the ballpark. That, and the underachievement of this roster led the Mets to ship the two future Hall of Famers (and four other players) out of Queens for a haul of quality prospects in a stunning reroute for the franchise that had a payroll north of $350 million in 2023.
Since re-joining the Astros, Verlander is 4-2 with a 3.86 ERA in six starts. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 2.21 ERA after the Mets shipped him to the Rangers.
In addition to the big game pressure on both pitchers, it will also have some of the sports media in New York buzzing about the what-if’s that never allowed the Mets to live up to the high goals set before the season.
What if the two teams ride their aging aces every fifth day to pull away from the rest of the Wild Card suitors? What if the Mets had a healthy Jose Quintana in the first half, who has consistently gives the Mets six innings per game? What if Edwin Diaz never tore up his knee at the World Baseball Classic? What if Starling Marte fully recovered from the groin injury he suffered one year ago?
Who knows if the two teams will face each other in the playoffs with each ace starting Game 1 for their respective teams?
These questions may, and probably will, come up in Mets land if a pitcher’s duel develops in Arlington tonight.
Mets fans should have more promising pastures to look out for, such as their suddenly above average farm system with their new farmhands killing it in the minor leagues. And one of their top prospects just made his big-league debut in Ronny Mauricio.