Back-To-Back: Scherzer And Verlander


Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander pitching back-to-back on the same day is not what the Mets envisioned. Forced into a Sunday split, day-night doubleheader at Citi Field because of a rainout Saturday, that’s what they got.

The Cy Young Award winners delivered, leading the Mets to a sweep over the Cleveland Guardians, their fourth and fifth straight win. It was Scherzer throwing six shutout innings in the day game and Verlander throwing an eight-inning gem in the evening.

The Mets planned this back-to-back duo for their starting rotation. Sunday, it happened in the span of eight hours. This probably won’t be seen again this season, unless rain again forces a change in the plan.

And consider this, the Mets were the first team with Scherzer and Verlander to start pitchers who have each won three or more Cy Young Awards in both ends of a doubleheader. Last time was also the Mets on September 7, 2008 vs. the Phillies with Pedro Martinez in the opener and Johan Santana starting the night cap.

Both combined to allow one run over 14 innings. Scherzer got the no-decision in the Mets’ 5-4 win in the afternoon. And then there was Verlander, his sixth career start of at least 8.0 innings with three or fewer hits allowed and no walks. It was the longest start for a Mets pitcher this season.

The Mets can celebrate their long day as they hit the road for three with the Cubs and Rockies. They need Scherzer and Verlander to stay healthy and efficient if they are going to overtake the Braves in the NL East.

Veteran aces can spark a team, then again, Scherzer and Verlander, with all of their success are unpredictable, considering their ages of 38 and 40. On this day, though, there were no concerns. Scherzer and Verlander at their best are what the Mets had in mind.

I woke up this morning, I was like, ‘Oh, we’ve got Scherzer and Verlander going today, that’s pretty cool,” said pitcher Brooks Raley who pitched in both games and recorded his first save in the nightcap.

They feel the momentum, and why not after two future Hall of Famers continued to put the Mets on the right path. Raley closed their fifth straight comeback, all by a run. Seems like yesterday the Mets were on that 6-16 slide.

One week at Citi Field and the complexion has changed, The Mets completed a successful homestand with a series win over the Rays and a three-game sweep over the Guardians. But the Mets know they need Scherzer and Verlander to lead them.

No concerns about their velocity or command, though Scherzer blamed a right thumb callus that bothered him off his last start which hindered his curveball.

Verlander and Guardians’ Shane Bieber, a pair of Cy Young Award winners in an old fashioned duel, the first pitchers to complete eight innings this season, that was vintage.

We’ve had so many exciting games this homestand and that’s what this team’s all about,” Verlander said. “Good to finish it off like this. I figured I would like to attack the zone and see where it took me. It worked out pretty well.”

The Mets have come from behind in their last eight wins, highlighting the homestand with dramatic late inning heroics, and six straight games using the home run ball.

Verlander struck out six, gave up three hits, and got the win. And what the Mets envisioned. They never lost confidence during their slide and continued to look at Scherzer and Verlander as being part of the positivity in their clubhouse when things weren’t going well.

Not to be a pessimist here, but surely there will be adversity again, there always will be during a long baseball season. But to have Scherzer and Verlander healthy and ready only brings optimism.

Him (Verlander) and Max are perfectionists,” said Francisco Lindor who hit a game-tying homer in the sixth against his former team and helped Verlander. “They are who they are because they’re perfectionists and they work on their craft day in and day out. They don’t back down from any challenge.”

Lindor said they always work in between starts and put time in to improve, part of team chemistry and what Scherzer and Verlander bring to the table.

Verlander challenged the Guardians after a first inning Jose Ramirez home run, retiring 22 of the last 24 Guardians before giving the ball to Raley.

I know what Max is capable of,” Manager Buck Showalter said when questioned about the six innings that Scherzer tossed.

Overall it was great baseball for the New York Mets and we stick together,” Lindor said. “We are on a high right now.”

And a good feeling to know what two Cy Young Award winners in the rotation are capable of doing, whether it be back-to-back on one day or during their normal turns in the rotation.

Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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