NEW YORK -- Had the Mets missed the postseason in 2016, injuries would have been the culprit. From David Wright to Neil Walker to three-fifths of the pitching staff, the Mets endured countless maladies over the course of the summer. Even relatively healthy players such as Yoenis Céspedes and Asdrúbal
NEW YORK -- Had the Mets missed the postseason in 2016, injuries would have been the culprit. From David Wright to Neil Walker to three-fifths of the pitching staff, the Mets endured countless maladies over the course of the summer. Even relatively healthy players such as Yoenis Céspedes and Asdrúbal Cabrera were not immune.
But injuries also opened the door for the surprise characters of the Mets' postseason run -- Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, José Reyes and others -- to take their places on the roster. Were it not for those players, the Mets never would have come close to accomplishing what they did, reaching the National League Wild Card Game against the Giants at Citi Field (Wednesday on ESPN, 8 p.m. ET) .
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Looking back, here are five moments that changed the Mets' season, most of them rooted in an injury or the aftermath of one:
May 27: Though they didn't know it at the time, Wright's fourth-inning homer in a 6-5 win over the Dodgers would be his final contribution to the 2016 Mets. Wright did not play again, hitting just .226 with seven home runs in 37 games before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck.
Wright's injury was the first major season-ending one for the Mets, who went on to pursue both Reyes and Yulieski Gurriel because of it. But Wright remained a clubhouse presence, attending as many home games as possible down the stretch.
June 25: The Mets knew the risk they were taking when they signed Reyes, both off the field -- no one in the front office took his suspension for violating Major League Baseball's domestic abuse policy lightly -- and on it. At age 33, it had been a half-decade since Reyes made his last All-Star team, floundering at stops in Toronto and Colorado. But Reyes gave the Mets' lineup an element it did not possess, stealing nine bases over 60 games.
Reyes hit .267 overall with a .769 OPS atop the batting order, allowing manager Terry Collins to bump Curtis Granderson down to a run-production spot.
Aug 1: For weeks, the Mets publicly and privately expressed little interest in acquiring an impact bat. But things changed in the days leading up to the non-waiver Trade Deadline, when they flirted with Jonathan Lucroy before settling on Jay Bruce: a low-average, high-power outfielder who fit the mold of their offensive philosophy.
Though Bruce struggled mightily enough down the stretch to earn a weeklong seat on the bench, he recovered to hit .480 with four home runs and a 1.536 OPS over the season's final eight games. No hitter was more valuable to the Mets once they moved into position to clinch.
Aug. 19: In retrospect, this is the day the Mets hit rock-bottom, losing an 8-1 game to the Giants to fall to 60-62. But it also signaled the Mets' rebirth. That afternoon, they activated both Cespedes and Cabrera from the disabled list. Cespedes hit three home runs over the next two days and, from that point forward, the Mets constructed the Majors' best record.
At least as much of the credit goes to Cabrera, whose walk-off homer on Sept. 22 was one of 10 he hit in 41 games after coming off the DL -- despite still feeling the effects of a strained patella tendon in his knee.
Aug. 23: Four days after Lugo made his rotation debut in the Mets' Aug. 19 loss, Gsellman stepped in to replace injured starter Jonathon Niese during a win in St. Louis. The next day, the Mets announced that Niese would undergo season-ending surgery, joining a pitching club that by season's end would include Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz. From that point forward, neither Gsellman nor Lugo missed a start, combining to go 8-3 with a 2.66 ERA in the rotation.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.