Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello spent the first half of the 2010s as teammates with the Detroit Tigers and the rest of the decade continuing to build reputations as two of the most successful and durable pitchers in Major League Baseball.
But while Scherzer is off to a familiar start in the 2020s with the Washington Nationals, Porcello will be looking to rediscover his old form with his new team, the New York Mets, when the two right-handers oppose each other Wednesday night in the finale of a two-game series in Washington.
The Nationals won the opener Tuesday, when Howie Kendrick went 4-for-4 with a homer in a 5-3 victory.
Scherzer (0-1, 2.84 ERA) won his first Cy Young with the Tigers in 2013 before cementing his Hall of Fame candidacy by winning back-to-back Cy Youngs with the Nationals in 2016 and '17 and posting two more top-3 finishes in 2018 and '19. He finished the 2010s as the major league leader in wins (161) and strikeouts (2,452) while ranking second in innings pitched (2,063 2/3) and third in starts (319).
Though he's winless in his first two starts, Scherzer's 21 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings are tied for sixth in the majors entering Wednesday. He allowed just three hits and three walks while striking out 10 over 7 1/3 scoreless innings in his most recent start July 29, when he didn't factor into the decision in the Nationals' 4-0, 10-inning victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Not too bad for a guy making his first start as a 36-year-old. Scherzer, who celebrated his birthday July 27, opposed 23-year-old Blue Jays phenom Nate Pearson, who tossed five scoreless innings in his big-league debut.
"Man, I'm just getting old," Scherzer said. "I'm an old guy in the league now, it's official. They try to get rid of 36-year-olds now."
Porcello (0-2, 13.50) is a mere pup at 31, but is hoping to prove he's not in the midst of a decline after struggling in his first two starts with the Mets following a 2019 in which he posted a 5.52 ERA, the highest in the majors among qualified starters, for the Boston Red Sox.
That ended an otherwise successful decade for Porcello, who won the American League Cy Young Award with the Red Sox in 2016 and ranked among the top 10 for the decade in starts (fifth with 308), wins (seventh with 135) and innings pitched (eighth with 1,866 2/3).
Porcello relied on gallows humor after his most recent start last Friday, when he didn't factor into the decision after allowing four runs (three earned) over four innings in the Mets' 11-10 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
"I made it past the second, so that was a positive," Porcello said, alluding to his two-inning stint in a 14-1 loss to the Braves in his first start this season.
Scherzer is 10-5 with a 2.63 ERA in 21 games (20 starts) against the Mets, whom he no-hit on Oct. 3, 2015. Porcello is 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA in two starts against the Nationals.
This will be the second matchup between Scherzer and Porcello, who were teammates on the Tigers from 2010-14. Porcello earned the win and Scherzer took the loss on July 2, 2018, when Porcello laced a three-run double off Scherzer in the Red Sox's 4-3 victory.
--Field Level Media
Scherzer, Porcello face off looking for 1st wins