Verlander earns 250th career win as Mets beat Nationals 5-2 after dealing Scherzer

After news of the agreement broke Saturday evening, the Mets and Rangers announced their deal involving Scherzer about 35 minutes before the first pitch Sunday at Citi Field

Justin Verlander
New York Mets starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field, on July 30, 2023.John Jones (USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con)

Justin Verlander earned his 250th career victory in what could be his final start for the New York Mets, who beat the Washington Nationals 5-2 on Sunday after trading Max Scherzer to Texas.

Francisco Lindor homered and had three hits for the fourth-place Mets (50-55), who took three of four from last-place Washington. Pete Alonso drove in two runs.

After news of the agreement broke Saturday evening, the Mets and Rangers announced their deal involving Scherzer about 35 minutes before the first pitch Sunday at Citi Field.

New York also sent cash to Texas and received one of the Rangers’ top prospects in infielder Luisangel Acuña, the younger brother of Atlanta star Ronald Acuña Jr. New York said he will be optioned to Double-A Binghamton.

With Scherzer and closer David Robertson traded away in the past few days, it’s possible Verlander could be next as the disappointing Mets look to get younger and improve their farm system. The three-time Cy Young Award winner is signed through next season, with a potential option for 2025. He also has a no-trade clause.

Verlander said he intended to speak with general manager Billy Eppler after being surprised by the Scherzer trade.

“I think it largely depends on how the organization views next year. I think Max is a tough sign for trying to go back at it,” Verlander said. “So I’m committed to trying to win a championship here, but if the organization decides that that’s not exactly the direction that they think is a best fit for next year and go for it again next year then yeah, I would be more open to it.”

Verlander (6-5) allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings to become the 49th major-leaguer to reach 250 wins.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “You don’t play the game for accomplishments. You don’t play it for big, flashy numbers or whatever. But as this game has a way of doing, sometimes you get a little kick in the butt.

“It’s a moment that you kind of have to take a step back and appreciate, and this is one of those for me. It’s pretty cool. A pretty cool accomplishment and a lot of blood, sweat and tears and sacrifice has gone into it to get here.”

Verlander is 4-1 with a 1.69 ERA in six starts this month. He became the first pitcher to reach 250 wins since CC Sabathia for the New York Yankees on June 19, 2019.

“That might be the new 300 as we go forward,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s an honor to be a part of just watching.”

Alonso had an RBI single in the first and one of New York’s two sacrifice flies in a three-run third against former teammate Trevor Williams (5-6), who will be placed on the bereavement list.

Lindor homered in consecutive games for the fifth time this year. He reached base four times. Jeff McNeil hit a go-ahead triple, and Omar Narváez also had a sacrifice fly in the third.

Making his 498th career start, Verlander gave up five hits in his third straight win. He walked off the mound to a warm hand and tipped his cap to the crowd of 33,861 before accepting handshakes from teammates in the dugout.

“That was a nice ovation,” Verlander said. “I don’t know what’s to come. That I’ll always remember and appreciate.”

The Mets signed Verlander to an $86.7 million, two-year contract in December shortly after Jacob deGrom signed a $185 million, five-year deal with Texas. That reunited Verlander and Scherzer, a pair of three-time Cy Young Award winners who were teammates in Detroit from 2010-14.

David Peterson, a candidate to fill Scherzer’s rotation spot, allowed an unearned run in 1 1/3 innings of relief. Adam Ottavino got the final two outs in the eighth, and Brooks Raley struck out three for his third save.

The Mets finished 14-8 in July after going 7-19 in June.

Washington opened the game with singles by CJ Abrams and Jeimer Candelario. The Nationals scored when Abrams stole home as the Mets threw to second.

“We had opportunities to score again,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “When you’re facing guys like that, and you have those opportunities, you’ve got to cash in. We just didn’t do that today.”

Alonso’s RBI single tied it in the first, and Lindor scored on McNeil’s triple into the right-field corner to put New York ahead in the third. Lindor hit a solo homer to right for a 5-1 lead in the fourth after ending his 15-game homerless drought Saturday.

Williams allowed five runs and seven hits in four innings.

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