QUEENS — Max Scherzer’s strong six-inning outing on Thursday night in which he yielded just two runs on seven hits with nine strikeouts wasn’t enough to get the Mets out of their ceaseless funk. One so bad that it could potentially end his tenure in Queens much earlier than expected.
After allowing a game-tying home run to Victor Caratini in the sixth, the Mets bullpen once again couldn’t stay clean as the Milwaukee Brewers scratched home the game-winning run in the seventh to relegate New York to a 3-2 loss.
Dating back to June 2, the Mets have lost 18 of their last 24 games to drop to a season-worst nine games under .500 (36-45). That included three of four to the Brewers this week and the two games since owner Steve Cohen hinted on Wednesday afternoon that he would be a seller at the trade deadline on Aug. 1 if things didn’t improve.
The 38-year-old right-hander’s contract becomes a focal point if the Mets are forced down that route. They’ll be looking to shed money off their record-breaking payroll and Scherzer is being paid $43.3 million this season and has a player option worth that same amount in 2024.
“I’ll comment on it when Steve [Cohen] says sell,” Scherzer said on Thursday night. “Until then, it’s pointless. It’s just clickbait.”
There would obviously be no shortage of callers if the Mets were to dangle the future Hall of Famer on the trade market. Pitching-needy teams on the cusp of a legitimate postseason push would be willing to fulfill Cohen’s and general manager Billy Eppler’s desire to continue stocking up the farm system.
It would also leave a sizeable hole in a Mets rotation that is already in a precarious situation. Scherzer is 7-2 this season, but at the midway point possesses a 3.87 ERA. Justin Verlander — the fellow future Hall-of-Famer and veteran right-hander — is 2-4 with a 4.11 ERA.
“[Cohen] drives us, so it’s pointless for me to talk about anything in the contract or whatever,” Scherzer said. “I’m here to show up and win. That’s all I’m here to do and I’m going to continue to believe that we’re going to win.”