After Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs, leaving the New York Mets with a 59-66 record; 11 and a half games out of first place and seven games out of a wild card spot, the season looks all but done, yet again. With the offense sputtering to a .217 batting average in the month of August, and an upcoming road trip against the playoff-bound Oakland A’s, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Atlanta Braves, the odds of the team competing and battling to end the season with a .500 record, let alone playoff contention appear only days away from being entirely out the window for 2014. So is there anything else to look forward to for this team over the last 37 games of the season?

4Despite whispers that Terry Collins will be retained for the 2015 season, one would think that Collins job is not completely safe, given his questionable in-game management this season, which has arguably been his worst season as the manager of the Mets. For all Collins’ faults, perhaps his biggest one has been his seeming lack of creativity to get the most out of the talent he has at his disposal at both the major and minor league levels (unless one counts his batting the pitcher in the eighth spot, which he has been way too willing to do). He has stuck with players like Ruben Tejada and Chris Young longer than should have, while shown a propensity to overwork a small collection of relievers, in relation to the usage of the rest of the bullpen, this year being Jeurys Familia, Vic Black, and Jenrry Meija, who is currently continuing to pitch while nursing an injury.

While Collins has taken recent strides to trust his younger players, by increasing the playing time of Wilmer Flores and Matt den Decker at the expense of Tejada and the released-Young, the report that Rafael Montero, who pitched his best game as a big leaguer against the Cubs Sunday, will be demoted upon the return of Jacob deGrom from the DL, shows how he still lacks the trust in players who could either become cornerstones of the team in the future, or need to be showcased to enhance their trade value this offseason.

The Mets’ best quality this season has continued to be their wealth of pitching, with a rotation of veterans Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee, and Jon Niese, and the emerging stars Zach Wheeler and Jacob deGrom, to go with the developing trio of bullpen arms who stabilized a bullpen that began the season with main cogs-Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth. But after Familia, Black, and Meija, the bullpen drops off in quality; as Collins has been reluctant to use left hander Josh Edgin for more than an inning, while Carlos Torres has been overused and not as effective as last year as a result, with modest contributions from Buddy Carlyle and Dana Eveland, who both are no locks to stay on the team this season.

big6We mentioned on the SportsZone a few weeks ago the idea of bringing up all the Mets top pitching prospects and letting two of them pitch on the same day every fifth day and might very well be the only idea that would keep people interested in a team that still lacks a consistent offense, while perhaps being a safer and more effective alternative to simply shutting Wheeler, deGrom, Montero, and Noah Syndergaard down when they hit their pre-establish innings limits, with all four having 30-40 innings remaining before they hit the organization-imposed limits, while keeping all fresh if needed to pitch longer in a game. The Mets need to look at the next 37 games as the time to truly find out what this organization possesses, talent wise, and while September first means the rosters expand anyway, there isn’t a need to wait for that given the fact that the playoffs have all but fallen beyond the Mets reach.

For the fans, the opportunity to see the future now in Wheeler, deGrom, Montero, and Syndergaard, while knowing that none of the four would over exert themselves from an innings stand point, is one that would be worth staying tuned for, given the way Wheeler and deGrom have shined already, and for Montero and “Thor,” it would be all about seeing if they belong in the team’s long-term plans, or if they can be used for trade chips. This strategy does not need to be limited to just the known prospects in the organization, but also the unheralded names that don’t have the notoriety, but have shown to be close to contributing on some level. Double-A All Star pitcher Matt Bowman, currently in triple-A; Cory Mazzoni, a 2011 draft pick finally healthy also pitching in triple-A; 10-game winner Logan Verrett, and Zack Thorton from the Ike Davis trade, should all be utilized over the last month, with Bowman possibly also showcased in the same way as the known-four, in order to establish that the team has more to offer than simply what has been hyped, what could help in the future, and perhaps most importantly, what could tempt another team to trade a bat that would keep the known-four in the Mets’ system. Part of the reason for the lack of the trade has been the front office’s reluctance to part with Wheeler, deGrom, Montero, Syndergaard, and Matt Harvey. So now would be the perfect time to showcase the other options the system has to offer, and if any of them catch deGrom-like fire, then obviously that would only help the possibility of an offseason trade for possible offensive contributors, especially if the team has no interest in riskier big-names such as oft-injured Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Kemp, and the enigmatic Starlin Castro (and probably rightfully so).

For the idea of Terry Collins’s managing the Mets in 2015 to appear to be the right move for the team, it would be nice to see some sort of change from the often-stagnant skipper. Mixing things up with the pitching, showcasing the future and allowing all the younger names pitch three to four innings every five days, while continuing to allow younger options such as Flores, den Decker, and others would show that Collins is finally willing to trust the much ballyhooed farm system, and maybe, just maybe it will be something that surprises everyone.

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