Injuries define difficult season for Mets

September 27th, 2017

NEW YORK -- The Mets will always remember their 2017 season as one fraught by injuries, the team undermined at every step of the way by its inability to keep players on the field. As such, a club many predicted to win the National League East wound up spending most of the season near the bottom of the standings.

There were bright moments, too, and plenty of memorable games -- both positive and negative -- throughout the summer. Here is a look at the five storylines that dominated the Mets' season:

• Mets head into offseason with holes to fill

1. Next time, he'll get the MRI

Although 's right arm was barking, he declined to undergo an MRI when doctors examined him the final week in April, and the Mets did not force a test upon the eccentric right-hander. Instead, Syndergaard took the mound for an April 30 game in Washington, tearing his lat in an ugly 23-5 loss to the Nationals. He did not make it back to a Major League mound until the penultimate weekend of the regular season.

Syndergaard's plight was characteristic for a Mets team that also lost , , Matt Harvey, , Zack Wheeler, and others for significant chunks of the regular season. Almost every player in the Mets' Opening Day lineup and rotation went on the disabled list at some point, leaving the team scrambling all summer to find replacements.

2. Eight is enough

It wasn't all bad for the Mets' superstars. Following the worst two-start stretch of his career, ripped off an eight-start winning streak from June 12 through July 24, beginning with a 116-pitch complete-game victory over the Cubs. In addition to the eight wins, deGrom posted a 1.61 ERA over the life of his streak, with 58 strikeouts and 12 walks in 61 2/3 innings. He would go on to eclipse 200 innings for the first time, also finishing with career highs in wins and strikeouts.

3. Taking his talents to South Beach

nearly didn't crack the Mets' Opening Day roster, and didn't play much until Cespedes' hamstring strain created an opening for him. But once Conforto began receiving regular playing time, he thrived, hitting .284 with 14 home runs in the first half to earn his first National League All-Star nod. Conforto was the Mets' lone representative in Miami.

Ultimately, however, Conforto could not escape the same fate as so many of his teammates. He dislocated his left shoulder and tore a capsule while swinging the bat on Aug. 24, undergoing season-ending surgery several weeks later.

4. Clearance sale

By late July, it was clear that the Mets were going to miss the postseason for the first time in three years. At that point, they pivoted their strategy, trading off most of their pending free agents in a series of deals to shed salary and net a group of young, controllable relief pitchers.

First baseman and reliever packed their suitcases in July, followed by outfielders and , and second baseman in August waiver deals. All of them wound up playing significant roles in the American and National League postseason races.

5. The kids are all right

One day after the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Mets called up shortstop , their top-rated prospect. Ten days after that, Rosario hit a go-ahead, ninth-inning home run in the same game that first baseman , the Mets' second-ranked prospect, debuted. Rosario and Smith wound up playing most days down the stretch as they attempted to showcase themselves for 2018 jobs.

The Mets also used their newfound roster space to audition other youngsters, including outfielder , infielders and and two relievers -- and Jamie Callahan -- they acquired in August deals.