Reunited with Max, JV hopes to win a title together

December 20th, 2022

NEW YORK -- Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer are together again. The Mets introduced Verlander to the media at Citi Field on Tuesday. One of the top pitchers on the free-agent market, Verlander signed a two-year, $86.66 million deal with the Mets on Dec. 7.

Next year will mark the first time Verlander, 39, and Scherzer, 38, will play together since 2014, when they were with the Tigers. During their five years together from 2010-14, they won a combined 169 games and two American League Cy Young Awards. With Verlander and Scherzer on the roster, the Tigers went to the World Series once. The Giants swept them in four games in 2012.

Since then, both have won a World Series ring with other teams. Verlander is hoping that a reunion with Scherzer will mean the Mets are the last team standing next fall.

Verlander and Scherzer have kept in touch over the years. In fact, the two are workout buddies in Jupiter, Fla., during the offseason. Before signing, Verlander asked Scherzer questions about the Mets' organization, and Scherzer gave a glowing report.

“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity [of being reunited with Max],” Verlander said. “I can’t speak for Max, but I look at that time [in Detroit] and it was two young men trying to establish their foothold in the game. I wish we were able to win it all back then.

“You look forward now, almost a decade later, and I think both of us are in a great place professionally. We know ourselves better. We are mature men with families. To be able to have that perspective can only help the situation, move forward in this new organization together. Both of us, I know myself, would love nothing more than to see each other … successful and pull off a World Series championship with the Mets.”

Mets general manager Billy Eppler likes the way the team is constructed with Scherzer and Verlander at the top of the rotation. Eppler wanted to have two aces against any club they face. That’s what the Mets did in 2022 with Scherzer and Jacob deGrom at the top. With deGrom now with the Rangers, Verlander will fill the void for New York.

“Once Jacob declared himself [a free agent], we looked at Justin and another pitcher and we felt the interest on [Justin’s] part. He wanted to be here and he wanted the opportunity to compete for another championship.” Eppler said. “This guy is at a point in his career where he has a lot of awards. He is on his way to Cooperstown. What does he want? He wants more rings.”

Like Scherzer did this past season, Verlander is looking to become a mentor to members of the pitching staff. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if newcomer Kodai Senga receives a lesson or two from two likely Hall of Famers.

“... As I have gotten older and my routine has become more routine, I’ve been able to remove those blinders and really see more around me, and really try to have an active role in helping other pitchers and be more open to what anybody needs,” Verlander said. “So I think that is just a journey that just happens as you get more comfortable in this game. With the more success you have, the more people want to learn what made you successful.”