Just over one month ago, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander were the headliners of the starting pitching rotation for the New York Mets.
On Wednesday, when the Texas Rangers (76-62) host the Houston Astros (79-61), the veteran right-handers will get the starting nods for their new respective teams in the series finale in Arlington, Texas.
Verlander (10-7, 3.34 ERA) will make his seventh start with Houston, while Scherzer (12-5, 3.55) aims to continue his strong surge with Texas. He is 3-1 with a 2.21 ERA in six starts with the Rangers.
"It's not too often in baseball anymore you get matchups between two guys who have had the careers like him and I have had," Verlander said, per ESPN. "I think it's exciting for baseball."
The duel also will mark the first time Verlander and Scherzer have started against each other. In addition to having been teammates in New York, they were also in the same starting rotation with the Detroit Tigers early in their major league careers.
"First time facing him," Scherzer said of the matchup, per ESPN. "My whole career, I've got to face all the best guys in the world and I've got to play with all the best guys in the world. So I got to play with (Verlander) for a while. Now it's going to be fun to actually go up against him."
"It's always a tough stretch, what we're going through," Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said after Tuesday's 14-1 loss. "I think you have to remind yourself of a couple things. One, who we are. What we were for the most part this season. And we're right there. Yeah, we're not in first place like we were, but we're right there in the hunt."
The pitching — specifically the performance from the bullpen — has been a cause for concern.
"It's not just giving up the hits, we're giving up slug from that bullpen," Bochy said after Texas squandered a one-run lead in a 5-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Friday. "We've got to execute the pitches better, because they're going to get used. The starters aren't going to go nine (innings)."
Houston's post-All-Star break push has put the Astros solely in first place in the division standings following Tuesday's win. The Astros are 7-3 in their past 10 games and have erupted for 27 runs in two games after being swept by the New York Yankees in the previous series.
"Obviously, both of us, we're fighting for playoff positioning, to make the playoffs in a tough division race," Astros third baseman Alex Bregman said following Monday's 13-6 victory. "I thought it was a good way to start the series. I thought the guys showed up ready to compete today."
—Field Level Media