The New York Mets are dreaming of a rebound. At the centre of it all is ace Justin Verlander, 40, who is starting to wake up.
Verlander took the mound against the Chicago White Sox at Citi Field in Flushing, N.Y., on Tuesday 안전놀이터 (20 June).
He faced a White Sox lineup of Andrew Benintendi (left field), Tim Anderson (shortstop), Luis Robert Jr. (centre field), Jake Berger (third base), Yasmani Grandal (designated hitter), Gavin Sheets (first base), Carlos Perez (catcher), Oscar Colas (right field) and Elvis Andrews (second base).
Verlander got off to a quick start in the top of the first inning when he was hit by a sharp pitch from leadoff hitter Benintendi, but was able to handle it with some help from left fielder Tommy Pham. He then retired Anderson and Roberts Jr. with a four-seam fastball and curveball to end the inning.
He struck out the side in order in the second and third innings. Despite facing the opposition’s centre-field line-up, he got out of the jam without too much trouble. The first hit came in the top of the fourth inning. Benintendi singled up the middle to put runners on the corners. He then allowed a stolen base to put runners on first and second, but retired the next two batters.
Meanwhile, the team’s bats came alive. The Mets scored one run in the bottom of the third and four in the top of the fourth to take the pressure off Verlander’s shoulders. Energised, Verlander continued to shut down the opposition. With one out in the bottom of the seventh, she gave up her first run on a solo shot to left-centre by Robert Jr.
Verlander ended the eighth inning with a triple play to close out the outing, handing the baton to Adam Oviedo in the top of the ninth. His final line was eight innings, three hits (one home run), one walk, seven strikeouts, and one earned run, dropping his ERA from 3.72 to 3.47. The team won 5-1 to improve to 4-0 on the season.
Verlander struggled with injuries and inconsistency early in the season.
Verlander had a tough start to the season with a combination of injuries and inconsistency. He was placed on the disabled list (IL) before the start of the season with inflammation of the supraspinatus muscle in his right shoulder, and after returning, he struggled to a 4.80 monthly ERA in May.
There was a lot of concern about his pitching, with some talking about “decline” as he entered his 40s, but he’s slowly getting back to his best. After dropping his monthly ERA to 3.33 last month, he’s cut it down significantly to 2.08 this month. He’s also rebounding with his powerful pitches.
The Mets have been steadily strengthening their roster in recent years to get closer to their goal of winning the World Series. So far this season, however, that plan hasn’t worked out. They are 45-50 on the season (as of the 20th), which is less than a 5% winning percentage.
However, they have rebounded a bit, going 6-4 in their last 10 games. They are still seven games out of the third National League wild card spot (Philadelphia Phillies), which is the minimum for a postseason berth, but you never know. If the Mets can build on their winning streak and use Verlander’s resurgence as a catalyst, they could be in with a chance of making it to autumn baseball.
Meanwhile, Verlander’s recent struggles have led to trade speculation with several teams looking to bolster their starting rotation. “Everybody knows when the trade deadline is,” Verlander told MLB.com after the game. But I think we just have to stay together here in the clubhouse and keep doing what we’ve been doing. We have to stay optimistic every day and do what we can to win.”
A rejuvenated Verlander. Can he lead the Mets into autumn baseball?