Neither New York team is in the position they’d like to be at this point in the year, with the Yankees third and Mets fourth in their respective divisions. While it looked for a couple weeks like we might get a neo-1998 home run chase between Aaron Judge and Pete Alonso, both players now find themselves on the IL. Both games in this quick series feature what should be marquee pitching matchups, but a closer look at the probable starters reveals some serious warts in all parties — except our big beautiful Gerrit Cole.
Tuesday: Luis Severino vs. Max Scherzer (7:10 pm Eastern)
Severino has had a pretty rough return to the rotation in his 20.1 innings this season. All three components of FIP have gotten worse — in particular his unsightly seven home runs across those 20 innings. Now, he likely won’t give up long balls on 25.9 percent of fly balls going forward, but he’s giving up a career-high hard-hit rate and career-low groundball rate, so there’s a lot to be concerned about. In Sevy’s last outing against the White Sox, he was able to boost his strikeout rate, but four earned runs in five innings still isn’t the outcome we’re all looking for.
Scherzer hasn’t been bad per se this year, but he’s kind of followed the Gerrit Cole 2022 model: three or four really solid starts in a row, followed by a blowup usually fueled by a dinger party. His last outing against Atlanta, which saw him give up five runs in 5.2 innings, was only a single-homer game, and with a rather power-depleted lineup these days, squaring up the mistakes he does make will be key for the Yankee offense.
Wednesday: Gerrit Cole vs. Justin Verlander (7:10 pm Eastern)
As mentioned, this should be a classic ace-off, but while Gerrit Cole has very much been the leader of his pitching staff, former teammate Justin Verlander has not. The 40-year-old right-hander has struggled with both command and control, posting his lowest K-BB% since 2008, and generating swings and misses at his lowest rate since 2014. It’s hard to count out anyone with the track record that Verlander has, but his stuff is so eminently hittable in the zone right now — it’s hard not to wonder if Father Time has finally caught up to him.
Cole, although I did say in the intro that he’s without warts, has seen some control problems himself. While he’s lowered his home run risk from last year, he is walking players at the highest rate of his career, leading to a FIP almost a full run higher than his 2.84 ERA. Finding ways to make his pitches work in the zone, without being belted over the fence, is the key to returning to his Cy Young candidate form, where if the voting was held today he would end up downballot at best.