Could be a baseball season. Could be triage.

Could be the usual – the most runs win, the fewest allowed win. Or, could be the reality – sturdiest UCL/oblique/rotator cuff/finger pad wins.


Maybe it’ll be the Cubs, no matter what.

A writer recently pondered whether the five young Mets starters – presumably Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler, the erstwhile future of the organization – ever would be healthy enough, productive enough and happy enough (but mostly healthy enough) to become the dominant unit that has been foretold. To which we’d respond, pick five starting pitchers league-wide, any five, and how many of those will be healthy enough, productive enough and happy enough over the next two or three seasons?

The pitcher’s world is a bit fragile beyond his next pitch. If it’s not the elbow or the shoulder or some other part, it’s the stealth comebacker, or the fastball that dies without cause, or the luck that plain runs out, and then what?

Well, if you’re the Mets and you’re in the wild-card fight of your lives and there’s only a few weeks left and Harvey, deGrom and Matz aren’t available, and Wheeler never has been, then you reach back to 2011 and you keep sending guys out there and hoping for the best.

That’s where men such as Rafael Montero, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo start showing up, men known to former scouting and farm director Paul DePodesta and minor-league pitching coordinator Ron Romanick and Triple-A pitching coach Frank Viola, men who are starting pitchers for the Mets during the wild-card fight of their lives. Men who are not Harvey or deGrom or Matz, not yet, probably not ever.

So, five summers ago, the three were first-year Mets, and this is the randomness/intrigue/hunch/payoff of scouting and developing. This is where Montero is signed (for $90,000) out of the Dominican Republic as a 20-year-old in January 2011, and Gsellman is drafted out of Westchester High in L.A. in the 13th round of ’11, and Lugo is taken 21 rounds later out of Centenary College of Louisiana. And where, five years later, Montero starts two games the Mets win in late August and early September, and Gsellman beats the Nationals on Saturday, and Lugo is 3-1, having beaten the Cardinals, Marlins and Nationals over four starts.

They are the stories of fall, of an all-hands-on-deck month, of next-man-up trials and must-have games. So, yeah, maybe nobody planned on this, maybe nobody ever wanted to see it. But, sometimes, you gotta bandage ’em up and send ’em out and let the best UCL win.[/restrict]