Dan's Dugout: Mets Limp Toward Finish Line • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Mets Limp Toward Finish Line

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FLUSHING – The end is near.

Certainly that’s true for the New York Mets, who played their last home game of the season at CitiField here Wednesday.

Picked first by many so-called experts, including this columnist, the Mets had a season-long meltdown that was baseball’s answer to Chernobyl.

Hirsute stud Jacob deGrom was lone reliable Met starter Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

Hirsute stud Jacob deGrom was lone reliable Met starter
Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

The quality quintet expected to carry the team into October collapsed early, leaving 15-game winner Jacob deGrom as the last man standing.

Noah Syndergaard spent almost the entire year on his ark tending to his flock as well as his arm. Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler went nowhere fast, opening the gates for the likes of Chris Flexen, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, and Rafael Montero.

Determined to salvage something for nothing, the team traded Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Lucas Duda, Rene Rivera, and any veteran with a pulse.

The result was a fourth-pace finish far from hailing distance of first-place Washington.

Oddly, the team hit more home runs than any team in the National League. In fact, it topped the 200-homer mark for the second season in a row.

Entering the game against Atlanta Wednesday, Mets catchers had clubbed 27 home runs, 16 of them by hot September hitter Travis d’Arnaud.

Travis d'Arnaud has been a hot September hitter

Travis d’Arnaud has been a hot September hitter

Shortstop, where Amed Rosario surfaced in late summer, also seems to be in good hands.

First base might be okay too, although Dominic Smith has had a slow start to his major-league career after a strong performance at Triple-A Las Vegas.

If they add Dr. Kildare to their clubhouse, the Mets should have solid sluggers in outfielders Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes. But both spent the last few months rehabbing injuries.

Brandon Nimmo, who hit well in September, has first dibs on the third job, though the speed and defense of Juan Lagares can’t be discounted.

David Wright's days are numbered Credit: Bill Menzel

David Wright’s days are numbered
Credit: Bill Menzel

Team captain David Wright, suffering from a chronic back condition, is probably down for the count, making third base a giant question-mark for 2018. Asdrubal Cabrera, Jose Reyes, T.J. Rivera, and Wilmer Flores all tried their hands there but most won’t return.

It might behove the club to ink prospective free agent Todd Frazier, a Toms River, NJ product last seen in Yankee pinstripes. Yet another possible signing is Mike Moustakas, who this season became the most prolific slugger in the history of the Kansas City Royals.

Keeping their pitchers healthy will be a key to the club’s success next year. While relievers Jeurys Familia and A.J. Ramos seem solid, the same can’t be said of the potential rotation.

Maybe a new, younger manager will help. Terry Collins, 67, is on the outs and pitching coach Dan Warthen is virtually certain to retire.

The Mets open the 2018 season at home on March 29 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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