The New York Post’s Bart Hubbach reports Mets closer Billy Wagner — who blew his 7th save of ’08 during Saturday’s 5-4, 10 inning loss in Houston, is almost certainly headed to the 15 day disabled list pending an MRI tomorrow morning.

“The strength is there, [but] it’s more that I can’t locate or finish the pitch,” Wagner said of the stiffness and soreness that worsened in his forearm Saturday night in Houston. “I wasn’t doing us any good.”

The last time the 37-year-old Wagner had a serious bout with left forearm stiffness, it landed him on the DL for 15 days in June 2001, when Wagner was still a member of the Astros.

If Wagner does indeed wind up on the DL, Jerry Manuel’s club likely would have to resort to Aaron Heilman, rookie call-up Eddie Kunz or a closer-by-committee situation.

In other words, yikes!

And that’s on top of having to gerrymander their starting staff after John Maine was put on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 29 on Sunday because of a strained rotator cuff. That is forcing the Mets to bring up a fill-in starter – most likely rookie left-hander Jon Niese – for a weekend assignment against the Marlins and perhaps beyond.

Bugs & Cranks’ Brad Bortone is amongst those unafraid of bringing Niese, asking Mets GM Omar Minaya to “put down whatever social drugs you were using when the trade deadline came and went, and start promoting from within.”

I want you to start pushing the young guns.  Jon Niese, Eddie Kunz, Dan Murphy, Brian Stokes and even F-Mart ” these are the guys we™ve been protecting.  These are the beacons in the storm. These are the few, the proud, the cornerstones of our barren farm system.

If they come up and succeed, you look like a genius, and the Mets continue to compete into the fall.  If they fail, then we revert back to the shaky bullpen and corner outfield platoons we™ve used all year, coming to the sad realization that we might not be as good as we thought.  But at least then we™d know.

Nothing against Bortone’s suggestions, but what would you say if I told you there was a former Met outfielder toiling in the Atlantic League just a short drive from Shea, with 17 HR’s, 65 RBI’s and a slugging percentage of .571 in 78 indie games this season?

You’d probably be pretty interested until I revealed I was referring to Carl Everett.