Max Scherzer makes Mets debut vs. former team, Nationals

Max Scherzer will make his New York Mets debut on the road against his former team, the Washington Nationals, in the second game of a four-game series on Friday.

Scherzer signed a three-year, $130 million contract with the Mets in the offseason after being dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers at last season’s trade deadline.

“You get used to playing for another team and you go out there and just compete and have fun,” said Scherzer, who was the subject of a video tribute before Thursday’s opener. “A lot of good memories here, and there always will be good memories here. But nothing lasts forever, and as my baseball journey goes on, I am here in New York and excited about what the future holds.”

Scherzer signed a seven-year, $210 million free agent contract with the Nationals before the 2015 season, and he more than delivered for Washington. The right-hander went 92-47 with a 2.80 ERA, won two Cy Young Awards, threw two no-hitters and helped the Nationals win the 2019 World Series.

The 37-year-old veteran was bothered by a right hamstring issue late in spring training that delayed his first regular-season start, but he took part in some on-field drills Thursday before the rain-delayed opener.

“I was able to pass all the tests,” said Scherzer, who is 37-26 with a 2.99 ERA in 96 starts at Nationals Park.

With Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross sidelined, 24-year-old Josiah Gray will start Game 2 for Washington. The right-hander was one of the players acquired in the blockbuster trade that sent Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner to the Dodgers. He went 2-2 with a 5.31 ERA in 12 starts for Washington last season.

Gray, who averaged more than four walks per nine innings in 2021, worked to improve his control in spring training.

“Obviously being aggressive in the strike zone — it’s going to lead to hits, it’s going to lead to home runs, being a flyball pitcher,” Gray said. “But I’m just really excited with the way I’m throwing strikes, the way I’m controlling at-bats — and I think that’s only going to get better.”

Gray faced the Mets once last season, allowing six runs on seven hits over three innings in a no-decision.

The Mets won the season-opener 5-1 on Thursday, collecting 12 hits in manager Buck Showalter’s debut as the New York manager. Tylor Megill made the start in place of Jacob deGrom and pitched five shutout innings for the victory.

New York slugger Pete Alonso had two hits but left the game after being plunked on the shoulder and face by a pitch from Mason Thompson in the ninth inning. He left the field under his own power.

“We think (he’s) OK. Grazed him off the shoulder and onto his mouth,” Showalter said after the game. “He’s going to, somebody said, have some sexy lips for a couple of days. I don’t want to make light of it. I’m not happy about it.”

Juan Soto picked up where he left off in 2021, homering for the Nationals’ only run, and catcher Keibert Ruiz had two of Washington’s six hits.

“Keibert played really well,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “Our defense was really good. If we can play good defense, catch the ball, I really feel like we’re going to swing the bats. We’ll get hits. Our pitching’s got to keep us in the games.”

–Field Level Media