For Mets, light at end of tunnel appears

NEW YORK -- Apparently there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

After two collapses and five consecutive losing seasons, things are starting to look up for the New York Mets.

The Amazin's still are a modest 52-56 with one-third of the season remaining.

Courtesy Brian Sullivan

Time to lose the paper bag. Things are looking up for the Mets.Yet they have won 14 of their past 21 games. And with Matt Harvey and Bobby Parnell poised to return from Tommy John surgery next season, with the emergence of young arms such as Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia, and with solid recent contributions from Lucas Duda and Travis d'Arnaud, the Mets may only be a shortstop and a left fielder away from legitimate contention.

That’s a far cry from how it looked early in the season, when Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth comprised the back end of the bullpen, Ike Davis versus Duda had yet to be resolved, deGrom had yet to debut and d'Arnaud struggled so mightily he eventually ended up with Triple-A Las Vegas.

“These guys have competed all year,” manager Terry Collins said after the Mets' 11-2 rubber-game win against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday. “Always you’re being evaluated, regardless of what anybody says, on wins and losses. Again, we aren’t happy with the fact we don’t have more wins. But all we can do is compete. All you can do is go out there and play nine innings as hard as you can play and then tip your hat and get ready for tomorrow. And that’s the way we’ve approached it.”

Wheeler did not have his sharpest control Wednesday, but he nonetheless limited the Phillies to two runs in 6 2/3 innings.

“We’re a good team right now, I feel,” Wheeler said. “We’re just a couple of swings or outs away from turning the corner. I feel like we’re a whole different team from the beginning of the season, honestly -- with the bats, with the pitching all around.”

Said David Wright: “We’ve dug ourselves a hole, obviously, so we’ve got to find our way out of it. I’ve been impressed mostly with the consistency that this team has played with the last month or three weeks or however long it’s been, where we’re not going through such streaks where you’re hot for a week, cold for a week, hot for a week, cold for a week.

“It seems like we’ve been going out there winning series against some quality teams. Hopefully that continues, because that’s what it takes. You can’t just get hot for a couple of weeks and try to ride that. You’ve got to consistently get better as a team, and we’re doing that.”

The non-waiver trading deadline nonetheless is expected to pass at 4 p.m. Thursday without any action from the Mets.

“Guys understand the deadline, and you just go about your business and get ready for the game,” Wright said. “There’s no talk of it. There’s no real thought of it.”

Said Daniel Murphy, feigning ignorance: “What is it, tomorrow? I’ll be hanging out with my son and my wife tomorrow. I’ll be fine.”