The New York Mets won 58 games and spent virtually the entire first half leading the National League East despite getting a combined 69 innings from Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom.
All of those innings were produced by Scherzer, who will be on the mound Friday night when the Mets open a three-game series with the visiting San Diego Padres after finishing with their second-most wins before the All-Star break.
Scherzer (6-1, 2.22 ERA) will pitch a day after deGrom’s simulated game that was pushed back two days due to mild shoulder soreness. Scherzer himself missed nearly two months with an oblique injury he sustained May 18 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Scherzer is making his fourth start since returning, but due to the Mets playing only 38 home games in the first half, it is his first home start since he was injured. The Mets are hoping to see more of the same from Scherzer’s first three starts since returning after he allowed three runs on 13 hits to go along with 31 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings.
“I’ve gone out there and pitched well, and that’s great,” Scherzer said. “But to have that injury — I pride myself on durability, always taking the ball. I really felt like to be out for six weeks, miss six or seven starts, for me that’s unacceptable. You can’t do that.
“My job as a pitcher is to go out there every single time, take it every single time. Yes, I’ve done some great things. Yes, I’m pitching well. I expect that out of myself. But I can’t get hurt. I can’t get hurt like that. And I can’t get hurt in the second half like that.”
Scherzer is 6-2 with a 2.87 ERA in 16 career starts against the Padres, who were in the NL West lead or within a game of the Dodgers for a two-week stretch last month. Yet San Diego headed into the break facing a 10-game deficit in the division by going 8-15 over its final 23 games of the first half.
Despite slumping recently, San Diego’s 52 wins were the third-most before the break in team history and its players are optimistic about avoiding a second-half collapse like last season. A year ago, the Padres reached the break at 53-40 but finished 26-43.
“We’re hungry, and I don’t think we’ve played up to our potential just yet,” San Diego pitcher Mike Clevinger said. “I think we’re still in the swing of it and finding it, but we’ve got the pieces, we’ve got the guys and we’re sticking strong together in the clubhouse. I think it’s going to bode well for the second half.”
Yu Darvish (8-4, 3.41) will open the second half for the Padres and face the Mets for the second time this year. He pitched seven innings of two-hit ball in a 7-0 home win on June 7 and is 3-1 with a 3.07 ERA in six starts since last facing the Mets.
Darvish ended the first half last Friday by allowing three runs on five hits in seven innings in a 5-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Darvish is 4-0 with a 2.76 ERA in seven career starts against the Mets.
–Field Level Media