Scherzer, Verlander's first matchup 'exciting for baseball'

September 6th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Kennedi Landry’s Rangers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

ARLINGTON -- sat down in the Rangers dugout at Globe Life Field the day before he made his Silver Boot Series debut against the Astros and let out a little chuckle. 

“Yeah, this is a big game isn't it?” he said. 

It’s definitely big because of the postseason implications. It's the final game of the Silver Boot Series this year, but the first matchup in years when both teams have been in contention. Entering Wednesday, just two games separate the Rangers and Astros for first place in the AL West.  

But for Scherzer personally, it’s big for another reason, too. 

Wednesday will be the first time in his 16-year career that he’ll face off against Astros ace , who was Scherzer's teammate at two separate stops -- with the Tigers and Mets.  

"This will be fun,” Scherzer said. “It's the first [time] I'm gonna face Ver. Like my whole career, I've gotten to face all the best guys in the world, and I've gotten to play with all the best guys in the world. I've got to play with Ver for a while now, as you know, so this is gonna be fun to actually go up against him. But for me, I'm going against their lineup. It's not necessarily like I'm going up against him. We don't get to hit against each other. But no, it'll be fun to compete against him."

"I just had a feeling [we were going to face each other],” Verlander said. “Obviously, going to the Rangers, when I came to Houston, it was like, ‘All right, we’re going to be playing each other.’ As destiny would have it, kind of figured it would happen this way."

According to Elias, it will be the sixth pitching matchup since 2001 in which both starters had three or more Cy Young Awards entering that game. It will also be the third matchup since 2000 of two pitchers with 3,000+ strikeouts starting against each other. 

The last starting pitching matchup with as many strikeouts as Verlander and Scherzer (6,672) was New York’s Roger Clemens and Boston’s Curt Schilling (7,776) on Sept. 16, 2007, per Elias.

Rangers manager Bruce Bochy is just happy to have a front row seat. 

“I’ve said this many times, but I’ve had a great seat to watch many great players and see matchups like this,” Bochy said. “I enjoy watching these guys with tremendous careers, like these two have had, and how competitive they are.” 

The two Cy Young Award winners were first teammates for five years with the Tigers from 2010-14.

Scherzer and Verlander joined forces for the second time this season atop a stacked rotation in New York. 

"It was good [being back with him in New York],” Scherzer said. “It was good to get back with him. I mean, he's obviously one of the great competitors of our time. So, it was good to be back with him in that and really get the down low of how he is as a pitcher and how he's evolved. The game has changed over the kind of seven, eight years that we were apart. The game really changed, so it was good to get back with him, get to know his pitching mind and how he sees the game and how he tries to go and attack hitters. So yeah, it was great to get back with him."

But the two were subsequently shipped off to the two Texas teams at the Trade Deadline after the Mets struggled in the first half and now find themselves amidst the biggest division race in the Lone Star Series this decade. 

Asked if it was going to be weird competing against Scherzer after being teammates earlier in the year, Verlander said it didn’t cross his mind much. All they both know is they’re going to compete hard on Wednesday for their club to come out on top. 

"I don’t think that makes it weird,” Verlander said. “I think we’ve both been around long enough to understand the nature of the business. But I think it’s exciting. Not too often in baseball anymore do you get matchups between two guys that have had the career him and I have had. So, I think it’s exciting for baseball, it’s exciting for us. I’m sure it’s exciting for him -- I hope."