The unstoppable ace is back in perfect form.
Justin Verlander, 40, of the New York Mets of Major League Baseball (MLB), pitched six scoreless innings and struck out six in a complete-game shutout against the New York Yankees today (Feb. 26) local time.
It was his fifth win of the season, and he lowered his ERA to 3.24.
Verlander, who signed a short-lived but astronomical guaranteed two-year, $86.67 million contract with the Mets ahead of this season as he approached his 40th birthday, didn’t look like his old self early in the season. He struggled through the month of May, going 2-2 with a 4.80 ERA in 30 innings pitched.
However, he rebounded with a 3.33 메이저사이트 ERA in 27 innings in June, and has regained his ace form this month with a 1.69 ERA in 32 innings, including two consecutive quality starts (QS) following an eight-inning, one-run performance in his previous start.
In addition to Verlander, the Mets signed outfielder Brandon Nimmo (eight years, $162 million), closer Edwin Diaz (five years, $120 million), starter Senga Kodai (five years, $75 million), second baseman Jeff McNeil (four years, $5, 000 million), starter Jose Quintana (two years, $26 million), catcher Omar Narvaez (two years, $15 million), reliever Adam Ottavino (two years, $14.5 million), and bullpen David Robertson (one year, $10 million).
That included re-signing existing players, but in total, the team spent more than $500 million to win the World Series. This year, with a payroll of $348.83 million, the team led the 30-team field and was expected to be one of the favorites.
But their record this year is abysmal. At 47-53 (.470 winning percentage), they’re in fourth place in the National League (NL) East. They’re seven games out of the third wild card spot, which is the postseason minimum. Unless there’s a dramatic rebound, fall baseball is a foregone conclusion.
Because of this, there is some speculation locally that the Mets could become a “seller” of key players.
In particular, the one-two punch of Verlander and Max Scherzer (38), who have short contracts and high salaries, are being talked about as trade targets. Their contracts are up next year, which means that if the Mets were willing to pick up some of their astronomical salaries, they could turn it into a strategy for next year and beyond in exchange for prospects from other teams. For the Mets, it’s a deal that allows them to dump the year they’ve already screwed up, while reducing their payroll and building for the future.
In this situation, a rejuvenated Verlander would be a huge win for the Mets. With his postseason experience, Verlander is a “sell” for teams looking to make a run at fall ball, especially if he regains his past form, which would increase his value and allow the Mets to trade him for better prospects.
“While it’s unclear at this point, several teams have shown interest in the three-time Cy Young Award winner as a potential trade candidate,” MLB.com reports, “and if he waives his no-trade clause, the Mets could try to make a deal.”
Fans are eager to see if Verlander will still be in a Mets uniform after the trade deadline on March 2, or if he’ll be playing for a World Series championship with another team as a championship hitter.