With Justin Verlander reuniting with Max Scherzer in New York, the Mets have an elite duo leading their rotation for 2023, even with Jacob deGrom leaving them for the Rangers.
But are Verlander and Scherzer the best starting pairing on any team right now? We’re going to compare them to other star duos of the moment, although that could change depending on where Carlos Rodón and some of the other free agents who haven’t signed yet end up playing.
These are the top 10 starting duos in the majors heading into the 2023 season.
1. Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, Mets
Goodbye deGrom, hello Verlander. The Mets will continue to have the best starting pairing in the majors next season. Scherzer and Verlander have won six Cy Young Awards between them. Yes, Verlander is 39 and Scherzer is 38, but they are still two of the most dominant pitchers in the Major Leagues. Verlander is coming off winning his third Cy Young Award, after going 18-4, leading the majors with a 1.75 ERA and striking out 185 with the Astros in 2022. Scherzer went 11-5 with a 2.29 ERA. and 173 strikeouts for the Mets. Now the pair of former Tigers pitchers are together in the same rotation again.
2. Shane McClanahan and Tyler Glasnow, Rays
McClanahan’s fantastic breakout year and Glasnow’s late-season return in 2022 gives the Rays perhaps the best pure arsenal 1-2 combo in the entire game. Both have fastballs that hit 100 mph, with lefty McClanahan (25) averaging 96.7 mph in 2022 and righty Glasnow (29) averaging 97.4 mph when he returned from Tommy John surgery. And also, both have devastating breaking shipments. Their dominant starts in the Wild Card Series was a taster of what they could do in a full season in 2023.
3. Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff, Brewers
Over the past three seasons, there hasn’t been a more reliable duo than Burnes and Woodruff. Burnes, who won the NL Cy Young in 2021, posted an ERA of 2.62 during the aforementioned span, with a rate of 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings. Woodruff had a 2.84 ERA and 10.9 K/9. They are the only starting pairing in MLB with an ERA better than 3.00 and a K/9 ratio above 10 since 2020.
4. Max Fried and Spencer Strider, Braves
Fried has risen to ace level with the NL East champions the past two years, while Strider appears to be headed the same way after a dominating rookie season. The 24-year-old flamethrower had a 2.67 ERA and an unprecedented 202 strikeouts in 131.2 innings, finishing second in NL Rookie of the Year voting. For his part, Fried, 28, went 14-7 with a 2.48 ERA and 170 strikeouts, finishing second in the battle for the Cy Young Award.
5. Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, Phillies
Nola and Wheeler led the Phillies to the World Series and they’re both so good it’s hard to decide who’s No. 1 and who’s No. 2. Wheeler, 32, has an ERA of 3.00 or better in each of his three seasons with the Phillies, while Nola is one of the game’s great horses, striking out 235 in 205 innings in 2022.
6. Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman, Blue Jays
The feisty Manoah sweeps the hitters, and then Gausman keeps them off balance with his spread-finger fastball. They complement each other very well. Both pitchers finished in the Top 10 of voting for the 2022 AL Cy Young Award. Manoah, 24, went 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA and 180 strikeouts, while Gausman, 31, , went 12-10 with a 3.35 ERA and struck out 205 batters.
7. Yu Darvish and Blake Snell, Parents
We could easily have included Joe Musgrove here along with Darvish or Snell, but this isn’t a trio list, so we’re going with the duo that topped the Padres’ 2022 rotation. Veteran Darvish, San Diego ace , had a 2.88 ERA in the postseason after going 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA and 197 strikeouts in the regular season. With Snell–former AL Cy Young Award winner (and Musgrove)–pitching behind him, the Padres were able to go head to head with the Mets’ deGrom-Scherzer-Bassitt trio and win the Wild Card Series the National League.
8. Clayton Kershaw and Julio Cesar Urías, Dodgers
The Dodgers won’t get Walker Buehler until later in the season, if the right-hander ever pitches in 2023, but it might not matter. That’s how good Mexican lefty Urías has been around Los Angeles the past two seasons. The Sinaloan had the best ERA in the National League (2.16) in 2022, after leading the majors with 20 wins in 2021. With Kershaw returning for a 16th season in 2023, after the three-time Award winner With the NL Cy Young clerk shining with a 2.28 ERA in 22 starts in 2022, the Dodgers’ front of the rotation remains among the best.
9. Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes Jr., Yankees
Cole had his ups and downs in 2022, but he led the majors with 257 strikeouts to 500 in his last two seasons with the Yankees. With “Nasty Néstor” – the 27-year-old Cuban lefty went 12-4 with a 2.44 ERA and 163 strikeouts in 2022 and topped the Guardians in the decisive Game 5 of the ALDS – behind him and the Dominicans Francelis.” Frankie” Montás and Luis Severino also the rotation, the Yankees are positioned to have one of the best groups of starters in the Young Circuit.
10. Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier, Astros
Losing Verlander will serve to clear the way for the next crop of big arms from the Astros. Dominican Valdez, 29, finished fifth in voting for the 2022 American League Cy Young Award after going 17-6 with a 2.82 earned run average and 194 strikeouts while who led the Young Circuit with 201.1 entries worked. And his compatriot, Javier, 25, turned heads by leading the Astros’ combined no-hitter in Game 4 of the World Series. In fact, both Valdez and Javier excelled in the postseason – left-hander Valdez was 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA and right-hander Javier was 2-0 with a 0.71 ERA.
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With Verlander in Queens, these are the top 10 starting duos