Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander have chance to right ship


The Mets’ call-ups are performing well. Their veterans’ bats have come alive. Manager Buck Showalter’s crew has won three straight with late magic and an unrelenting offensive attack.

But the club pinned its World Series hopes on an unmatched top of the rotation that has yet to even approach hitting its stride.

On Sunday, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander will get a chance to become the latest signs of hope around the club.

The Mets will turn to their co-aces for a split doubleheader at Citi Field against the Guardians after their scheduled game Saturday was rained out.

Scherzer, who was expected to pitch Saturday, will get the matinee start against righty Tanner Bibee before Verlander faces off against Shane Bieber on Sunday night. A club that used to celebrate Harvey Day instead will look forward to Scher-Lander Day.

The two enter play with a combined 4.84 ERA in nine total starts, showing more of their combined age (78) than their pooled Cy Young Awards (six).

Max Scherzer will pitch Game 1 of the Mets' split doubleheader against the Guardians.
Max Scherzer will pitch Game 1 of the Mets’ split doubleheader against the Guardians.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

If there is a positive, both appear to be healthy enough to pitch after Scherzer missed time due to several injuries and a 10-game, sticky-substance ban and Verlander was absent for the first five weeks of the season, with a teres major strain.

Both returned before their best stuff did, and the Mets will hope Sunday serves as a launching pad for the rest of the season.

Scherzer is coming off perhaps his most promising start of the year, in which he limited the Nationals to two hits and one run in five innings last Sunday. That victory marked his first start back after a bout of neck spasms forced him to miss a turn and it was his first outing since a disastrous turn in Detroit, where he allowed six runs in 3 ¹/₃ innings. In that game against the Tigers, Scherzer’s velocity was down while he dealt with discomfort below his right scapula.

The 38-year-old has acknowledged he is still managing the issue, but said he is healthy enough to pitch. His velocity and results were much better against the Nationals.

“[I’m] physically good enough that I’m going to be able to avoid the IL, and now I will get back in a routine and get going,” Scherzer said after his start last Sunday, in which he built up to 83 pitches. “That is the most important thing is to avoid the IL and be out there and be healthy and throw the ball well.”

There are fewer health concerns with Verlander, who seems to be past the muscle strain that sidelined him at the onset of the season. Sunday will mark his first time this year pitching on normal, four days’ rest. His more recent issue has been ineffectiveness.

Justin Verlander will pitch Game 2 of the Mets' split doubleheader against the Guardians.
Justin Verlander will pitch Game 2 of the Mets’ split doubleheader against the Guardians.
Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

In his third start of the season, Verlander was knocked around by the Rays, who hit a pair of home runs and tagged him for six runs in five innings on Tuesday. That 8-5 loss was Verlander’s first start as a Met at Citi Field — and he was booed off the mound.

“I know I’ve got some work to do,” said Verlander, who added he felt something was “a little off” with his mechanics. “I need to fix it, and I need to fix it in a hurry.”

Since Verlander last pitched, the Mets have called up Mark Vientos, have watched Francisco Alvarez perhaps turn a corner at the plate and have relied on big swings from Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor to win a couple of games.

As the Mets hope the rest of the club is taking shape, the top of the rotation could add to the good feelings or represent one more frustration for the early going this season.

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