The frustration might have been palpable. Max Scherzer, in his first start for the Mets since Sept. 3, was perfect through six innings on the road in Milwaukee, but his day was already done.
With the Mets hoping for a deep October run, Manager Buck Showalter pulled Scherzer from his bid at ending baseball’s decade-long streak with no perfect game. And Showalter did it despite Scherzer’s having thrown only 68 pitches.
It was the kind of sensible but excruciating decision that tends to rile up fans. And the bid at baseball’s first combined perfect game unraveled immediately, because the reliever Tylor Megill allowed a leadoff double to Christian Yelich within the seventh and a two-run homer to Rowdy Tellez two batters later.
But after the dust settled, the Mets walked away with a 7-2 victory. That win meant that they had clinched their first postseason berth since 2016, and allowed Scherzer, in his return from the injured list, to turn into the one hundred and twentieth pitcher to succeed in 200 wins for his profession.
“That is what you play the sport for — you play the sport to go to the postseason,” Scherzer told reporters after the sport. “We’ve got lots of things in front of us and we understand that. But, man, you’ve got to have a good time the great times, too.”
With the Mets securing at the least a wild-card spot within the playoffs, Scherzer’s personal milestone gave the look of an afterthought. Loads of pitchers had reached the 200-win mark before him, and plenty of of them weren’t particularly notable. But with modern bullpen usage making wins for starters far harder to return by, Scherzer and two of his peers who’re nearing the mark — Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers — could possibly be the last pitchers to get to 200 for quite a while.
Currently, Scherzer’s 200 wins put him third on the energetic list behind Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros (243) and Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals (223). Wainwright is fourth at 195, just ahead of Kershaw at 193.
There may be a reasonably steep drop-off after that group. David Price of the Dodgers is at 157, but at 37 he’s now an often-injured reliever and is unlikely so as to add many more victories to his résumé. Johnny Cueto of the Chicago White Sox is 36 and has 142 wins, most probably putting him out of reach. Madison Bumgarner of the Arizona Diamondbacks is barely 33, and has 133 wins, but he has not managed greater than nine wins in a season since 2016.
That leaves the subsequent most probably candidate after Wainwright and Kershaw to be Gerrit Cole of the Yankees, who’s 32, plays for a team that scores lots of runs, and already has 129 wins. But even Cole will likely need 4 or five more seasons to get there. After Cole, it gets far murkier as to who might reach the milestone.
Wins being harder to build up is sensible. In an analytics-driven era when strikeouts are king, getting through the required five innings to even qualify for a win might be difficult without running up a pitch count.
And managers don’t take possibilities once that pitch count starts to rise. Only three pitchers this season have been allowed to throw as many as 120 pitches in a single game after only five got to that number last season. For reference, in 1988, the primary 12 months during which Baseball Reference has accurate pitch counts, there have been 598 games during which a starting pitcher threw 120 or more pitches despite there being 4 fewer teams in Major League Baseball on the time.
The cruel thing with Scherzer, though, and with Kershaw before him in an identical start back in April, is that each of them had been remarkably efficient and seemingly had a probability of ending off their perfect game bids without running up their pitch counts. However the bids happened to are available starts where the veteran pitchers were getting back from injuries, which made their managers much more conservative than they may need been otherwise.
Even when the situation just isn’t as cut-and-dried, pushing a starter in hopes of getting him a person accomplishment has largely turn into a thing of the past. It’s sound reasoning even when it might be difficult to stomach within the moment. And it is identical logic that has made the 200-win club, once a mark for a reasonably good but not great starter to strive for, suddenly exclusive.
But for the Mets, any frustration felt for Scherzer looked as if it would have melted away because of the team having guaranteed a visit to the postseason. And with baseball’s latest postseason format allowing the highest two seeds in each league to skip the wild-card round, there continues to be plenty to play for this season despite their postseason ticket having been punched.
“We understand this just isn’t the top goal, but it surely’s a part of our destiny,” said shortstop Francisco Lindor.