Cole vs. Scherzer: Fascinating encounters between Mets and Yankees 2022

The Yankees did not sign Max Scherzer after the 2014 season. They had responded to missing out on the playoffs in 2013 by investing almost half a billion dollars in Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Masahiro Tanaka. Alex Rodriguez’s salary came back on the books after a year-long suspension.

Although the Yankees missed the postseason for the second year in a row, Hal Steinbrenner refused to approve the kind of spending it would take to land Scherzer. The right-hander eventually signed with Washington for seven years for $210 million (with deferrals).

It turned out to be one of the best free agent signings in history. Scherzer finished in the top 5 for the NL Cy Young in six of his seven seasons at Nationals, winning it twice and being the ace of the only champion in franchise history in 2019.

Scherzer also proved valuable on the way out. He was sent to the Dodgers in a package with Trea Turner to land what the Nationals hope will be cornerstones in their rebuild, catcher Keibert Ruiz and starter Josiah Gray.

In a way, the Yankees need Gerrit Cole as their prankster. Cole started this season with seven years left on his contract (at $252 million), and the Yankees have to hope he remains as consistently healthy and dominant as Scherzer ages.

The duo’s last four seasons have had many similarities. From 2018-21, Cole kept his opponents at a slash line of .201/.256/.355 for .611 OPS versus Scherzer’s .205/.258/.353 for .611 OPS. The narrow draw favors Cole as he has only served in a DH league. But Scherzer breaks all ties since he did that at age 33-36 (Cole was 27-30), and his Nationals beat Coles Astros in that 2019 World Series.

Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer
Corey Sipkin, Getty Images

They’re both in New York now: Cole owns the record for most guaranteed money ever at $324 million on his nine-year contract; Scherzer owns the record for most money per year given to each player with $43.3 million for his $130 million three-year package.

Cole has finished fourth and second for AL Cy Young in his two seasons. But there is this feeling of falling short. Is it bad against the Red Sox (and Boston in particular) last year in wildcard play? Will it be a face (the face?) of the ban on sticky substances? There are similarities between the problem with sticky substances and steroids – numerous players have cheated, but those who have succeeded (statistically and financially) have become the biggest targets.

Cole is a brilliant pitcher in both senses of the word: he is outstanding and clever at his craft. He added an editor this year which should serve him well now and in his old age.

Scherzer is also a brilliant pitcher, in every way. As part of his development, he added an editor to his repertoire in his early 30s. According to Statcast data, Scherzer had hit a career-high 11.8 percent of the time in his first four Mets starts.

Having Cole and Scherzer share the New York stage for a few years should prove compelling, and here I begin my New York-New York matchups. Yes, I’ll keep an eye on Cole over the long term to see if he’s aging like Scherzer. But for 2022 I have my eye on which will finish with the lower ERA – a fairer barometer in 2022 with a universal DH. Scherzer had a 1.80 ERA in four starts. Cole had a 4.00 ERA before his fifth start Saturday night in Kansas City.

Aaron Judge vs. Pete Alonso: Who hits more home runs?

Judge set the rookie homer record with 52 in 2017. Alonso broke it at 53 in 2019. Earlier this season, Alonso had homed in 6.6 percent of his career record appearances, Judge’s 6.4 percent.

As with Cole/Scherzer, I’ve been intrigued for longer: If you had to bet who would end their career with more homers, who would you pick? Alonso, who has 110 at the start of his 27-year season, or Judge, who has 164 at the start of his 30-year campaign? The judge went into the weekend leading the 2022 race 5-3.

Aaron Richter
Getty Images

Aroldis Chapman vs. Edwin Diaz: Who will have the higher strikeout percentage?

We could have gone with parades. But consider that in major league history (at least 350 appearances) Chapman is second all-time in strikeout percentage with 41 percent and Diaz is fourth with 38.8 percent (for those scoring at home, Craig Kimbrel is first and Dellin Betances is fourth). .

Diaz was at 44.7 percent in 2022 after beating the team to complete the Mets’ no-hitter against the Phillies on Friday night. Chapman was at 35.5 percent. The stakes are high for both as both will be free agents after the season — as will Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen, who ranks fifth all-time in strikeout percentage.

Jeff McNeil

DJ LeMahieu vs. Jeff McNeil: Who Will Have the Higher Batting Average?

Ah, you remember the batting average, right? It’s so nice to have two guys in town who can use up an entire field and make their way to the base. LeMahieu and McNeill both went into Saturday as .301 career hitters. There are only nine active players with at least 1,500 career record appearances and a .300 average: LeMahieu, McNeil, Jose Altuve, Charlie Blackmon, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Mike Trout, Trea Turner and Joey Votto.

LeMahieu and McNeil both had bad years in 2021. They’re back – LeMahieu went into the weekend in 2022 with a .324, McNeil .344.

Joey Gallo
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Joey Gallo vs. Robinson Cano: Who stays with their New York team longer?

It could be that both will last the entire season. Gallo will be a free agent thereafter, while Cano still has an additional $24 million guaranteed due in 2023 (the Mets are responsible for $20.5 million). But the first signs are not great.

Gallo batted .153, struck out 43.3 percent of the time, failed to show what is touted as an elite defense and carried -0.3 fangraph wins over the reserve through Friday. Cano hit .195 with an extra base hit, limited (perhaps worse) defense, and a -0.4 WAR.

Will the Yankees ever admit that Gallo just wasn’t built for New York and accept that the return won’t be great, but bring the Sonny Gray of the thugs out of town? The Mets will be first on the clock. Injuries aside, they have to drop a position player from the squad by Monday midday when squads have to be reduced from 28 to 26. Cano is – at the very least – in discussion as to whether Steve Cohen is willing to eat about $38 million.

In these New York vs. New York competitions, an answer can come quickly. Cole vs. Scherzer: Fascinating encounters between Mets and Yankees 2022


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