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The Mets need to step up

Will the Mets have an answer to the Phillies’ challenge?

League Championship Series - Boston Red Sox v Houston Astros - Game Three Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Now that the will-they-or-won’t-they romance between Bryce Harper and the Phillies has been consummated, the Mets are in a tough spot. A fairly active offseason had put them in the middle of what looked like an all-out dogfight in the NL East, but now they find themselves on the outside looking in at a two-team race between a deeply talented Nationals team and the massively improved Phillies. Depending on how much you believe in the homegrown Braves core, you might even have the Mets looking at a fourth place finish.

While the Mets have been considered finished making moves for some time now, it’s clear that they need to do more if they’re serious about being bold contenders. The depth they’ve built is impressive, but it doesn’t mean anything if they don’t have the baseline talent to make a push for the division title.

The clear-cut winning move here is for Dallas Keuchel. The second-best starting pitcher on the market this year, after new National Patrick Corbin, would transform a strong rotation into a dominant one, with a top three of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Keuchel capable of going head to head with any team in the game. It would push the mediocre Jason Vargas into a bullpen role and offer greater insurance against injury, a serious concern given the overall history for most Mets starters.

The only other top-tier free agent remaining is Craig Kimbrel and while he may seem redundant to a team that has brought in Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia, a deep, shut-down bullpen has carried many a team into the postseason. This would instantly give the Mets the best relief corps in baseball with the flexibility to rest any one of them and invaluable insurance for an oft-injured resource.

These two pitchers are where the conversation should start and end. There are no other players on the market that can make the kind of impact the Mets need if they want to shake off the underdog reputation. If Brodie van Wagenen really wants to change the conversation and catapult the team to the top of the standings, they need both. But even one will show a real commitment to competing, a refusal to succumb to yet another season of being the also-ran.

It’s not too late, Mets. No more half-measures.

And no, Carlos Gomez doesn’t count.