By Lenn Robbins
The Mets playoff dream ended on Hump Day, which is perfectly fitting.
Before they took the field Wednesday night at Citi Field needing to beat the Marlins and hope the Brewers lost to the Reds, the scoreboard showed Milwaukee leading, 6-0.
The nail was being driven into the coffin.
It didn’t matter that Jacob deGrom turned in his latest marvelous pitching performance in a 10-3 win. He deserves to win the Cy Young for a second straight year but he would rather be pitching in October.
Which brings us to next October.
If the Mets aren’t in the 2020 MLB playoffs the season will be a failure. For the first time since 2015, when the Mets lost the World Series to the Royals, has a season ended with so much expectation for next year.
“There are so many positives that came from this year,” slugger Pete Alonso told reporters. “We learned a lot about ourselves, and I think what we learned is that we’re gritty, we’re tough, we can compete. We have some awesome pieces, and the mentality we have, I think there’s something extremely special to come.
“When we finally put it together for 162, it’s going to be scary.”
There’s no reason the Mets can’t put it together next season but it starts with this offseason. GM Brodie Van Wagenen needs to address the bullpen which had fans feeling more trepidation than if it was Grenade Giveaway Day at Citi Field.
The Mets could use more quality depth. They need to unravel the enigma that Edwin Diaz became on the flight from Seattle.
And a decision has to be made on manager Mickey Calloway, who deserves credit for leading the Mets to that post All-Star streak that made a playoff berth a possibility, not a pipe dream.
“You know, obviously I have the utmost confidence in myself,” Callaway told reporters.
Good to know. But Callaway is 159-160 in his two seasons with the Mets and made his share of head-scratching moves. Jury is out.
The Mets have the nucleus of a serious if not scary team next season. They can’t let Zack Wheeler walk in free agency. They must find a way to coexist with Noah Syndegaard, or at worst, trade him for some elite bullpen talent.
A rotation of deGrom, Syndegaard, Wheeler, Steven Matz and Marcus Stroman will be as good as it gets. A lineup centered around Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario and Wilson Ramous proved it can produce.
It’s time for this franchise to get over the hump.
“We’re definitely not satisfied with where we’re at,” Conforto told reporters. “We want to play in October, that’s the goal. I think we have the guys in here to do it. We have to put six months of baseball together, and we didn’t do that this year.”
That’s exactly what the Mets’ mindset has to be. deGrom should win that Cy Young. Fernando Tatis was terrific but his season ended in mid-August. If Alonso tied or breaks Aaron Judge’s rookie home run record he gets my vote for Rookie of the Year.
There have been some really nice feel good moments in Queens. That Amazin streak of 15 wins in 16 games brought back memories of the 69 Miracle Mets. That team won it all. This team didn’t make the playoffs.
“Did we get to our ultimate goal and get in the playoffs?’’ asked Calloway. “No, and that stinks.”
If the Mets don’t go deep into postseason next season, the stench will be even worse.