It is an unfortunate truth that Mets fans should be well acquainted with failure by now. After a brief respite the past two seasons, here we are again facing another losing season. Since bad baseball is still better than no baseball, there are a few storylines to watch during final two months of the season before the winter doldrums set in.
1. The kids
Now what does this picture remind me of?
After the 1999-2000 teams made it to the playoffs in back to back seasons, the Mets had to wait until they had two super prospects to help get them back to the postseason in 2006. For the second time in franchise history the Mets made consecutive postseason appearances in 2015-2016, and now their two top prospects, Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, have joined the team. These final two months can help them get their feet wet in the majors, pick up the baton from the others, and move the franchise forward.
Of course Rosario and Smith aren’t the only kids on the team right now. Chris Flexen is currently in the rotation and picked up his first big league win against the Rangers. He still might be a little too raw for the majors, but at least he has shown he can get outs at the big league level, which bodes well for the future. As for the bullpen, Paul Sewald has looked promising, and more recently, so has Chasen Bradford. The bullpen is a huge question mark next season so anybody who can prove themselves is a welcome sight.
Brandon Nimmo could get more playing time if Curtis Granderson is traded. Can a Nimmo/Lagares platoon in center be effective next season? Now is the time to find out.
Gavin Cecchini hit his first big league home run off Clayton Kershaw earlier this season and will most likely be back with the September call-ups. Cecchini is still a bit of a mystery in terms of what he has to offer and the only way to find out is with some playing time.
2. The possible return of Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard
Matt Harvey has taken significant steps forward in the rehab process and hopefully will be able to make it back to the rotation before the season ends. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Harvey, and the rotation, so if he could come back and show some semblance of the former bulldog on the mound, it would certainly help ease some fears about the state of the rotation.
Noah Syndergaard is a bit further back in his rehab, but should he return, a healthy Noah Syndergaard is always fun to watch, even in a lost season.
3. Rafael Montero
How do you solve a problem like Montero? After a period where he looked like he might’ve finally turned a corner, he regressed badly and does not look like he can be effective at this level. The Mets are still waiting for his potential to turn into results, and for better or worse he is in the rotation until Robert Gsellman, Matt Harvey, and Noah Syndergaard make their return. Montero’s chances might be dwindling with this team so it would behoove him to turn it around and turn it around quickly.
4. David Wright
David Wright has resumed baseball activities but there is still no telling when he will be back with the club. The Captain has not been on the field in over a year, but if he were to step into the batter’s box at Citi Field at any point this season, 2017 would become a bit more tolerable, no matter the results.
5. A preview of 2018
Despite all the turnover the Mets will still have good players and some great ones. Michael Conforto and Jacob deGrom have been a joy to watch and are a fantastic, steadying duo in the lineup and the rotation. When Yoenis Cespedes is healthy he can turn any game around with one swing of the bat, Wilmer Flores could play his way into a starting role, and once the veterans are gone, the lineup should start rounding out to what it will look like in the future.
Yes, this season was a losing one but it has also become a transitional one. A changing of the guard that is playing out in real time, and one that hopefully brings brighter days ahead, like that other time two top prospects ignited the Mets’ infield.