The New York Mets pivoted quickly after Jacob deGrom signed with the Texas Rangers, signing American League Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander this offseason. The move was excellent, ensuring a rotation headlined by two aces and future Hall of Famers.
Verlander brings a lot to this team. A mature starting pitcher with playoff experience and world series titles. However, some factors stand out in the Verlander of these last years.
Justin Verlander will bring much more to the Mets than just a great pitcher on the mound.
Despite being a star on the mound, many don't know Verlander wasn't a good teammate on his road to the Astros. During his stay in Houston, he was widely criticized by his teammates, for his lack of leadership and support for the team.
There is a story that when he was recovering from his TJS he was designated to pitch in Game 1 of the ALDS against the White Sox, in a ceremonial role in 2021. At that time, his teammates asked Jim Crane, the team's owner, not to let Verlander throw that opening pitch because he had been absent from the team in his recovery.
At that point, it all seemed like a rumor until Ken Rosenthal wrote a story about Verlander changing his attitude and maturing with age. Titled the New Verlander, Rosenthal argues that the pitcher was not approachable before his 2020 surgery.
Since then, he has become a better person and a better partner. His catcher, critical of Verlander's past attitude, told Rosenthal that he believed the reigning Cy Young was a new person. He said that Verlander is "more open to helping young guys, helping the team, having team dinners, constant communication. I think (he is different) in a big way, good way.”
Verlander's signing looks even better, the Mets are not only acquiring an ace with a winning attitude, but they are also acquiring an improved, mature player, with the ability to lead and command a team in search of a championship. No doubt this new attitude from Verlander, altogether with the work that Scherzer has been doing from the clubhouse, creates a winning culture within the team, with continuous learning and a competitive attitude.