As Hopes For Mets Season Fade, Scherzer and Verlander Hit the Block and Eppler Looks to Japan

Justin Verlander of the New York Mets blows a bubble while looking on from the dugout against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on July 05, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network

It’s easier, it would seem, for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than it is for Steve Cohen to get the New York Mets to the World Series.

It’s no surprise, then, that Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, the two $40 million men of the Mets rotation, will likely be in first class seats to another major league city before August 1, and those seats won’t be on the Mets’ charter jet.

For all the money that Steve Cohen has – $13.2 billion according to Bloomberg Businessweek – his most visible asset remains seven games under .500 with the trade deadline two weeks away, the Mets having lost their last four games on the road, extinguishing any spark of optimism that may have come from the six-game win streak that preceded it.

Of course, the optimism of the offseason, which saw the Mets sign two of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball over the past two decades, as well as adding Japanese sensation Kodai Senga, is long gone, sapped by a team that has been beset by injuries and a mostly-impotent offense. 

With a merciful off day after returning from the West Coast Monday, the Mets sat 18th in the Major Leagues in on-base percentage (.301), 20th in runs scored (408) and OPS (.715)), 21st in slugging (.398), 22nd in hits (730) and batting average (.237), and 23rd in total bases (1,261). 

For all that money Steve Cohen spent on pitching, he’s finally made an investment for which he’s not seeing a big return because there’s just not enough offense to support the pitching staff. Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso, try as they might, can’t do it all themselves. Aging veteran Tommy Pham still has something left to give, but it’s not enough. Rookies Mark Vientos and Brett Baty are coming along, but have yet to reach their full potential. 

On Monday morning, SNYtv’s Andy Martino reported that Mets GM Billy Eppler has traveled to Japan this season to scout Yoshinobu Yamamoto, a right-hander who could be posted for MLB teams to sign this coming offseason.

Yamamoto, 24, has played seven seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball with the Orix Buffaloes, and helped propel Japan to the 2023 World Baseball Classic title. He’s the kind of player American scouts covet. Just look at his numbers this season: in 13 starts and 93.1 innings, he’s recorded a 1.74 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 103 strikeouts against 12 walks. 

Over the last six seasons, Yamamoto has won an NPB championship, two Pacific League Gold Glove Awards, two Eiji Sawamura Awards, the NPB’s equivalent of the Cy Young Award, been a four-time All-Star, and won the Japanese pitching Triple Crown in 2021 and 2022.  

Is he the answer? 

Possibly. The best pitcher in Queens this season hasn’t been Scherzer or Verlander – it’s been Kodai Senga, who the Mets shelled out $75 million to sign for the next five years. He’s got a WAR of 2.0 and an ERA of 3.20, and ERA+ of 128, and a FIP of 3.86.

With Verlander and Scherzer on the block, Mets fans will have to hope Eppler can get a big haul of prospects in return – prospects who are nearly Major League-ready. They’ll have to hope that if they can make Yamamoto an offer he can’t refuse, that he and Senga will be enough in 2024, because Verlander and/or Scherzer likely won’t be back. They’ll have to hope there’s some offense added to the lineup, because solid pitching can’t win without offense.

Spread that money around, Steve.

Otherwise, it’ll be another year of the same sad situation, watching another season get flushed away around the All-Star Break in Flushing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate »