Mets won’t be able to get away with spackling over problems


Just enough spackle can create a beautiful illusion. Too much spackle, though? Eventually, those cracks prevail.

So told the tale of your Mets, whose four-game winning streak came to a jarring end Friday night with a roller-coaster, 9-8 loss at Citi Field to the terrible Tigers — who halted a nine-game losing streak by beating up (primarily) on Noah Syndergaard and Drew Gagnon. Their veteran subs, all acquired by beleaguered general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, performed brilliantly … until Gagnon, one of ex-GM Sandy Alderson’s finds, couldn’t follow the others’ leads.

When outfielder Aaron Altherr, acquired Thursday via waiver claim, started his Mets career with a sixth-inning, pinch-hit, tiebreaking homer — two days after Rajai Davis kicked off his Mets career by going deep, and a day after returnee Carlos Gomez slammed a game-winning, three-run homer — you started to feel the Mets Magic here. Could their recent slew of injuries, sparking a flurry of roster changes, actually catapult them to better things?

Could Altherr, Davis, Gomez and infielder Adeiny Hechavarria — who drilled a go-ahead, three-run homer in the fourth inning on Friday — constitute the Mets’ Mount Rush-WAR? Since all these guys in their respective career equate to the “Replacement” player in “Wins Above Replacement.”

Alas, those replacements usually wind up reverting to type, and the Mets finally, mostly ran out of gas when the Tigers put up a three-spot in the seventh against Gagnon, who had been pitching well in the absence of injured Seth Lugo.

“There’s no doubt about it,” Mickey Callaway acknowledged. “Seth obviously lengthens our pen and makes us a better team.”

As do Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil, and as can Robinson Cano and Brandon Nimmo, the latter two of that sidelined quartet struggling so far this season.

If you want to rail on Syndergaard for getting knocked around in his 5¹/₃ innings (six runs and 10 hits, including two homers), that’s understandable, yet can I interest you in some forgiveness there? Thor had pitched much better prior to this one, compiling a 2.40 ERA in four starts, totaling 30 innings. On this weird night, he struck out nine and walked one, and he nonetheless couldn’t avoid hard contact.

“I just had a hard time putting stuff together,” he said.

Syndergaard also departed, however, as the game’s winning pitcher, albeit with his runs on second and third; Tyler Bashlor relieved him in the sixth and allowed the tying run to score. That the Mets still couldn’t win, even with their batters providing a total of five home runs, speaks poorly of what transpires here.

The Mets’ pitching depth in particular has proven a constant source of consternation, from their limited starting-rotation options beyond their front five to the disappointing results of free-agent relievers Jeurys Familia and Justin Wilson. And this night added to the pain.

That the club added outfielder Matt Kemp and pitcher Ervin Santana on minor league deals on Friday illustrates its understanding that more spackle will be required to keep this train going forward. An “A” for effort. The Mets’ chances will increase considerably, however, when they can ditch the spackle by either healing their top guys or signing Dallas Keuchel.