Vintage Justin Verlander leads Mets to a series win over the White Sox
Justin Verlander went eight brilliant innings while Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty led the way for the offense - Mets now 7 games back of a wild card spot
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾️
The Mets defeated the White Sox 5-1 at Citi Field on Wednesday night (Box)
Justin Verlander was brilliant over eight innings, allowing only a run on three hits with seven strikeouts
Brett Baty continued his resurgence at the plate, hitting a solo home run in the third inning
Francisco Álvarez kept his good times rolling as well - he went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored
10 of the 16 runs scored by the Mets in this series have been driven in by
the 6-7-8-9 hitters in the lineup
The Mets are now 23-21 at home, 9-4 in July, 7-7-1 in home series, 29-11 when scoring first, 39-4 when leading after seven innings, 5-3 against the AL Central, 30-15 when scoring five or more runs, and 13-1 when their starting pitcher goes at least seven innings
News and Notes 🗞️
Starling Marte will see a specialist while he deals with continued migraines
The Mets signed the following draft picks:
fourth round selection RHP Wyatt Hudepohl (UNC Charlotte)
fifth round selection LHP Zach Thornton (Grand Canyon University)
11th round selection RHP Brett Banks (UNC Wilmington)
13th round selection RHP Ben Simon (Elon University)
14th round selection RHP John Valle (Jefferson HS, FL)
15th round selection RHP Justin Lawson (NC State)
16th round selection 3B Jake Zitella (St. Charles East HS, IL)
17th round selection RHP Bryce Jenkins (University of Tennessee)
20th round selection OF Kellum Clark (Mississippi State).
Who’s hot 🔥
Justin Verlander has a 2.72 ERA over his last nine starts, holding opponents to a .617 OPS during that span. He is the seventh pitcher in Mets history age 40 or older to have multiple starts of eight or more innings as a Met, joining Bartolo Colón (10), Warren Spahn (eight), Frank Tanana (five), Tom Glavine (four), Orel Hershiser (two) and Orlando Hernández (two).
Francisco Álvarez is hitting .381/.447/.881 with seven home runs and 14 RBI in 11 July games
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (44-50) vs. White Sox (40-56)
Where: Citi Field – Flushing, NY
Starters: LHP José Quintana (2023 debut) vs. RHP Michael Kopeck (3-8, 4.47 ERA)
When: 1:10 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
Identifying the best version of two evolving pitchers is the next big task for the Mets… ✍️
Justin Verlander’s line from last night speaks for itself - he was just what the doctor ordered for the Mets.
It was more than just a brilliant, eight-inning performance by the future hall of famer. It was a performance that offered stability, brought order to the chaos that has been the Mets pitching staff pretty much all year long, and gave the Mets a pulse and a glimmer of hope for the front office to lean on as they decide what’s going to happen with this roster over the next 12 days.
It hasn’t been an easy ride for Verlander, of course. His last nine starts - during which he has posted a 2.72 ERA - doesn’t tell the entire story. His last outing against the Dodgers seemed to be pretty definitive of his season, demonstrating he could be Justin Verlander for a period of five innings or so before the tide would harshly turn on both him and the Mets.
But on Wednesday, it was vintage Verlander. An efficient, albeit quietly dominant outing for the 40-year-old. It served as a reminder of what Verlander has been and what Steve Cohen and Billy Eppler signed in the off-season.
It was a different kind of outing for Verlander yesterday, an outing in which his adjustments were clearly apparent right from the jump. He was leaning on his fastball early and then turned to his curveball in the seventh and eighth innings as his go-to. He actually didn’t get a lot of swings and misses on his fastball last night but his breaking pitches were far more effective than they’ve been for him. He’s also begun sprinkling in a change-up, something he hasn’t historically had to depend on but is starting to lean on more and more as his season rolls along.
For context, Verlander threw 63 change-ups in all of 2022. He has thrown 48 in 2023, 12 of which have come in his last two outings. So, something is there for him, even if it’s serving as a show-me pitch right now.
I think the one thing the Mets counted on when they signed both Verlander and Max Scherzer was their evolution and reinvention of their craft as the contracts progressed. After all, one is 40, the other is turning 39, and they simply can’t expect to be what they were before. But there is clearly a top tier left in both, perhaps in a different format and often times for different outing lengths. For instance, sometimes the best version of Verlander might be in a five inning outing now, and perhaps more infrequently they’ll get a vintage performance like they did last night.
It’s up to the Mets to manage this and understand what that best version is of these pitchers better as time goes on, because they 24-year-old competitive brain of a 40-year-old pitcher might not agree with each other the next time out.
And perhaps that comes with a creative way to construct a competitive bullpen for this team, whether that’s at this season’s trade deadline or in the off-season. It would also help if the Mets got a little younger, more agile and certainly more talented in other parts of their rotation, but the entire world knows this team is going to go wherever Scherzer and Verlander take them, so its incumbent upon the Mets to build a proper support system around their two most expensive assets.
I’m not sure Billy Eppler did that this past winter. After all, he said it himself that he preferred “optionable” relievers over those who weren’t (and made more money, of course).
Actually, I know he didn’t do that this winter.
Anyway, last night’s performance from Verlander offered a lot of relief. Yes, he had been good statistically leading up to that outing over the last month or so, but this is something he badly needed for himself, and the club needed for a multitude of reasons.
He’s still got it. Now he and the Mets need to figure out how to manage this so he can be just as crisp and efficient again.
Around the League 🚩
Aaron Judge ran the bases as he continues to work his way back from a torn ligament in his toe, but the Yankees got swept by the Angels in Anaheim with a 7-4 loss
The surging Orioles augmented their bullpen on Wednesday, acquiring hard throwing Shintaro Fujinami for minor leaguer Easton Lucas - Baltimore beat the Dodgers 8-5 on Wednesday afternoon to virtually tie the Rays for first place in the AL East
The Diamondbacks have won a series against the Braves in Atlanta with their 5-3 win at Truist Park on Wednesday - they will go for a series sweep of the Braves today
The Marlins losing streak is now at 6 games thanks to a 6-4 loss to the lowly Cardinals, who have now won 5 games in a row
The Rangers sent the struggling Rays to their fourth loss in a row with a 5-1 win in Arlington. Texas tied the Rays in the loss column and is now just one game behind Tampa Bay and Baltimore for the best record in the American League