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Back with Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander ‘would love nothing more’ than to win World Series with Mets

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Justin Verlander Mets
New York Mets baseball pitcher Justin Verlander attends a news conference at Citi Field, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022, in New York. The team introduced Verlander after they agreed to a $86.7 million, two-year contract. It’s part of an offseason spending spree in which the Mets have committed $476.7 million on seven free agents. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

QUEENS — Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer are back together again in Queens roughly nine years after the latter left the Detroit Tigers following the 2014 season to sign with the Washington Nationals. 

In some respects, things haven’t changed much. Both right-handers are still amongst the very best starting pitchers in Major League Baseball heading into the 2023 season where they’ll be expected to anchor the Mets toward playoff contention. 

But plenty has changed, too. 

“We look back… at that time and it was two young men trying to establish their foothold in the game,” Verlander said Thursday after his introductory press conference at Citi Field. “You look forward now, almost a decade later, and I think both of us are in a great place professionally and know ourselves better and are mature men with families.

“To be able to have that perspective can only help this situation and move forward in this new organization together.”

Verlander, 39, and Scherzer, 38, are still one of the premiere 1-2 punches in baseball, just as they were in Detroit.  Scherzer went 82-35 with a 3.52 ERA (3.02 in his final two years with the team), winning the 2013 AL Cy Young Award as a Tiger from 2010-2014. He provided a dynamic complement to Verlander, who went 91-43 with a 3.05 ERA from 2009-2014, which was the peak of his 13-year stint with the organization. That included the 2011 AL Cy Young and MVP Award after going 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts.

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They helped the Tigers make the playoffs four straight times from 2011-2014 which featured a 2012 AL pennant. They were swept by the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. 

“Two great pitchers. I wish we would’ve been able to win it all back then,” Verlander said. 

While there is some remorse, there is no feeling of unfinished business, at least on Verlander’s end.

“The way I view it is it’s a chapter of my life that I won’t be able to revisit,” he said. “We had the talent, we found ourselves on the doorstep multiple times and we weren’t able to walk through the door. However, the longer I play this game, the more I realize that talent isn’t everything.

“The playoffs are a crapshoot… There is a bit of regret I guess, you could say that we weren’t able to pull it off, but the longer I’ve played this game, the more I’ve realized it’s the way it happens. You can’t take anything for granted.”

Max Scherzer Mets
Max Scherzer. (AP Photo/Brett Davis)

Verlander did win two rings with the Houston Astros, most recently in November, on his way to a third-career Cy Young Award. Scherzer got one of his own with the Nationals in 2019 when they beat none other than Verlander’s Astros.

On a much lesser scale, there still will be some competition between the two despite them both wearing blue and orange. 

“I hope we ping-pong off one other and take the ball every five or six days and just go the whole year and we have a great, healthy competition,” Verlander said. “That’s ideal. The one thing we probably both learned is healthy competition is great.”

Healthy is a key word in more ways than one for the Mets. Verlander will be 40 and Scherzer 39 — and with injury issues within the last three years for both of them, there certainly is a lot of hope being invested in pitchers at advanced parts of their careers.

But Verlander preached adaptability when speaking about his longevity in the game and despite coming off a World Series win that would normally put a tidy bow on the careers of many other 39-year-olds, the Virginia native wants more.

“What a disservice it would be to myself and my family, what a bad example it would be to my daughter if I put in all this work in my entire life — since I was five years old…. why would I put in all that time and effort and sacrifice and sell myself short at the end?” Verlander said. “It’s like running a marathon and stopping a mile short of the finish line… Why would you do that?”

Now, he gets an opportunity to write his next chapter in Queens with a familiar friend by his side.

“Both of us would love nothing more than see each other be amazingly successful and pull off a World Series championship with the Mets,” Verlander said. 

For more on Justin Verlander and the Mets, visit AMNY.com