In the sixth week of the 2023 season, the baseball gods allowed the Mets to finally pair their co-aces together for the very first time and, on paper, it looked very good.
This isn’t to suggest that the return of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander is something of biblical proportions, but the enormity of getting the two right-handers back in the fold is of enormous importance to the Mets.
Scherzer and Verlander will start on back-to-back days in their upcoming series this week in Detroit against the Tigers. The pair of future Hall-of-Famers, who were teammates for five years in Detroit, will get the ball for the final two games of the set with Scherzer projected to go on Wednesday and Verlander finally getting to make his Mets debut on Thursday.
Verlander was shelved just hours before the start of the regular season because of a shoulder strain that was not expected to hold him out for too long. The 40-year-old said before the team’s home opener that a late-April return would be a “worst-case scenario.”
It immediately put the Mets down two of their starters before a pitch was even thrown in 2023 after Jose Quintana required rib surgery that will keep him out until at least July.
The Mets had been without Scherzer since he was ejected during an April 19 game against the Los Angeles Dodgers after umpire Phil Cuzzi deemed that the mixture of sweat and rosin found on the righty’s hand and glove multiple times was too much. He was suspended for 10 games by Major League Baseball in a decision he chose not to appeal.
“I thought I was going get in front of a neutral arbitrator, but I wasn’t,” Scherzer said about his decision not to appeal the decision. “It was going to be through MLB. Given that process, I wasn’t going to come out on top. The best thing for the Mets is to come to a settlement with MLB on what the fine should be and move forward with that.
“That’s the best thing for the Mets at this point and time.”
The decision not to draft out the process was an important one for a rotation that was being held together by a thread. With no Verlander, Quintana, Scherzer, and Carlos Carrasco — who is expected to return next week after dealing with a bone spur in his elbow — the Mets’ starting five was diminished to a group of Kodai Senga, David Peterson, Tylor Megill, Jose Butto, and Joey Lucchesi.