He’s done just about everything there is to do in baseball: won a World Series, pitched in 15 postseason series, earned three Cy Young Awards and started two All-Star Games. This week, however, Max Scherzer is going to experience something new.
The Mets’ ace righthander will be indoctrinated into the Subway Series when it convenes on Tuesday at Citi Field. In any season, it’s among the most intensely contested series for either organization, and this time it comes with each atop its division and harboring championship aspirations.
“You get in a rivalry game — when the fans feel it, you feel it,” said Scherzer, who is on schedule to make his Subway Series debut on Wednesday. “Players, we feed off that, we notice . . . When the fans are going nuts, it just spikes your adrenaline [and] you can feed off of it.”
The 15-year veteran got the first taste of what this week’s games could be like when he was dealt from the Nationals to the Dodgers last season. In his first seven seasons, Scherzer played on teams that didn’t have such rivals, Arizona and Detroit. And Nationals-Orioles has yet to generate any heat.
“I’ve always enjoyed pitching in those types of big environments,” Scherzer said. “I got to do it last year with the Dodgers and the Giants. And even with the Dodgers and the Padres, those got to be some intense games as well. That’s what baseball is about.
“[Teammates] talk about it,” he added. “They say it’s like a playoff game. It’s going to feel like that . . . When the fans are into it like that, it feels like that. Even though it’s not quite all the way, that’s kind of the only way to describe it.”
The upgraded enthusiasm for this season’s Subway Series is there even for those Mets who have experienced it.
“I’m excited for it,” Francisco Lindor said of playing the Yankees. “They’re playing good baseball and so have we all season. I am looking forward to it. You play a really good team, it brings the best out [in] you. I know the fans are going to be pumped and the place is going to be electric.”
And it has every reason to be. Both teams have a little bit of everything: pitching, hitting and defense. And both teams have MVP candidates in the Yankees’ Aaron Judge and the Mets’ Pete Alonso.
Alonso, the MLB RBI leader with 82, discounted the notion that this will be a showdown with Judge, the MLB home run leader with 37 and RBI runner-up with 81. And though it won’t be the case for any of the four games the Mets and Yankees play, Alonso sounded like a guy rooting for Judge.
“I feel like he’s on a historic little tear . . . It’s an excellent season for him, a dream season,” he said. “It’s really special what he’s doing. I hope he keeps doing it. I hope he hits 60.”
Scherzer has always relished a challenge, and he rose to the occasion last season when the Dodgers faced their two California rivals. In the 2021 NL Division Series against the Giants, he threw seven innings of one-run ball in a 1-0 loss and saved the series-clinching 2-1 win in Game 5 with a scoreless inning. In three regular-season starts against the Padres, he was 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA.
“They’re a great team [with] a great lineup. I have a lot of respect for what they can do,” Scherzer said of the Yankees. “I definitely have to be on my ‘A’ game. If I make mistakes, they’re going to make me pay.”