Mets facing crisis point

By Matt Verderame

The New York Mets are only two games back of the Miami Marlins for the second and final wild card spot in the National League playoffs. It is a deficit that could be overcome in a single weekend, and yet it is beginning to feel like a mountain the size of Everest.

At 57-54, this is a team with 51 games to play, and still, it almost feels like not enough time.

New York has been trailing Miami throughout much of July and all of August, usually by only a game or two. For weeks, Mets fans and players have been able to talk about only needing to get hot, and then they could overtake the pesky Marlins before getting into the postseason. Yet, with each passing day, it feels more and more like Miami won’t be going away, but perhaps New York will.

With both Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey on the disabled list, the Mets desperately need to find some hitting to compensate for a hurting starting rotation. In this vein, general manager Sandy Alderson made his second huge trade in as many years at the trade deadline, this time landing outfielder Jay Bruce from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for minor leaguers.

While the acquisition of Bruce certainly gives some much-needed power and protection to the lineup, the bats are still mostly silent in the borough of Queens. Outside of Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes, the batting order has been rancid for the Mets. Neil Walker has been productive at second base with 19 home runs, but he hit nine of them in April. Since then, Walker has yet to hit better than .263 in a month and with little power.

With Lucas Duda hurt, the Mets needed Curtis Granderson to provide some addition pop, but he has a measly 31 RBI despite 18 home runs. The 35-year-old is also a mediocre defender and a .233 hitter, hurting the team in more ways than one. With shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera also on the DL, New York seems to be a dead team walking.

At some juncture, the pitching of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Bartolo Colon and Steve Matz either has to be literally perfect, or the Mets have to find some more offense. Maybe that is in the form of some waiver pickups or even shuffling who sits and stands. Play Michael Conforto everyday and sit Granderson down. Put Kelly Johnson in the lineup five days per week and start benching others.

If the reigning National League champs are going to make their way back into the postseason for the second consecutive season, the run has to begin soon.

Miami isn’t going to give it away, and it remains to be seen if the Mets can muster the strength to take the reigns.