With a strong record of 18-8 in June, including a blazing 11-5 run in their past 16 games, the Philadelphia Phillies quickly find themselves back in the playoff race after struggling for much parts of the 2023 season. They have pulled to within two games for the third and final Wild Card spot currently occupied by the San Francisco Giants and only three games behind the Miami Marlins for the top wildcard position in the National League.
In the meantime, their division rivals New York Mets has done practically the exact opposite, having gone on a downward spiral with a 7-19 record in June, including a dismal 4-10 stretch in their last 14 games, falling further out of the playoff picture as we enter the second half of the season.
Word has come out of New York that Mets’ ace and prized offseason signing Max Scherzer would be willing to waive his no-trade clause if the ballclub continued with their struggles and were interested in trading him to recoup assets at the trade deadline. If that report holds any truth, should the Phillies be interested in Scherzer?
Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young winner and eight-time All-Star, has had a down season thus far in 2023 compared to his normal career standards, as he has struggled with a 3.87 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, giving up 33 earned runs including 13 home runs, with 18 walks and 85 strikeouts over 76.2 innings pitched, despite a strong 7-2 winning record. As age appears to be finally catching up to him, he will probably still want to have a chance to pitch for a contending team once again, before he finally decides to hang it up.
The Phillies currently have a strong starting three in Aaron Nola, Zach Wheeler and Taijuan Walker, with some surprisingly strong starts from Ranger Suárez and Cristopher Sánchez in recent weeks amid their ascending run up the standings. Even though Suárez and Sánchez have definitely been holding their own recently, a team never complains about having enough starting pitching, so a player with the pedigree such as Scherzer being made available could definitely be a difference-maker for any team, despite his less than stellar season to date.
One would just have to look back to as recently as in 2019, where Scherzer led the Washington Nationals to their first ever World Series Championship over the Houston Astros. In addition, in 2021 at the ripe age of 36, he practically single-handedly took the Dodgers into the postseason by going 7-0 in 11 starts down the stretch, giving up only 15 earned runs and walking only eight batters, while striking out 89 for a 1.98 ERA, 214 ERA+ and 0.82 WHIP.
Whether the Mets would want to do business within their own division is up for debate, but it may be worth the gamble for the Phillies to take a run at Scherzer if he were to indeed be made available by the Mets, and with the announcement that he was willing to be traded, along with his sub-par season, perhaps he can be had at a more value price than usual.