Just how many times can we declare the Mets' season is on the brink before the calls seem hollow?
Well, here we go again.
After gaining four games on first-place Washington in a one-week span, the Mets took a step backward in Thursday's series opener against the Nationals with an 8-3 loss. The defeat dropped the Mets' record to 30-35 and left them 9½ games behind Washington in the division and 10 games back in the wild card.
Now, the Mets are slated to face Max Scherzer on Friday and Stephen Strasburg on Saturday. They will face those electric arms following the latest dispiriting flood of injury reports that includes Neil Walker estimating he will be out a month with a left hamstring tear, Noah Syndergaard being advised to wait another month before picking up a baseball because of slow healing with his lat tear, Juan Lagares suffering a fractured left thumb, and Asdrubal Cabrera landing on the DL with a left thumb sprain.
"I've been very lucky. We have a good clubhouse," Terry Collins said Friday afternoon. "They don't get down. I was just in the kitchen a little bit ago, and David [Wright] is in there, and he's joking with guys. The spirit is still good. Certainly it's a punch in the gut any time you look up and you lose good players. But the one thing, if you've been on this team for the last couple of years, or three years, you're pretty used to key guys going down."
Of course, Sandy Alderson could have changed the narrative by promoting top prospect Amed Rosario from Triple-A Las Vegas to man shortstop. Instead, the GM suggested that he wants Rosario to remain at the major league level for the duration of his career when he ultimately is promoted -- not return to the Pacific Coast League once Cabrera is activated. And because Cabrera is expected to miss the minimum 10 days on the DL, Rosario remains with the 51s, where he is hitting .336 with seven homers, 47 RBI and 12 steals in 268 at-bats.
Arguably, the very reason Alderson articulated for not promoting Rosario is the very reason the Mets should be promoting him. Because Cabrera's absence is expected to be short term, the pressure on Rosario with the Mets might be reduced because the prospect would know he is ticketed to return to Vegas in 10 days no matter his performance. If Rosario struggled, there would be no stigma with a demotion. After all, it had been predetermined.
The Mets also may recognize that introducing Rosario to the majors during a stretch when they will face Scherzer, Strasburg, and Clayton Kershaw in a four-day span may not be the wisest thing.
So, Jose Reyes instead handles shortstop and T.J. Rivera handles second base on Friday in a critical game against the Nationals. Collins is trying a new lineup wrinkle, with Cespedes batting second, as Kris Bryant and Mike Trout do.
And the season is very much on the brink for the Mets. Again.
Adam Rubin (Facebook | Twitter | Contact) has covered the Mets since 2002. He previously worked for the Daily News and ESPN. He also serves as assistant athletic director for strategic communications at NYIT. He is a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the University of Pennsylvania.