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Mets: When we should start worrying about Brandon Nimmo

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 15: Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets flips his bat after a strike out against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the third inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on June 15, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 15: Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets flips his bat after a strike out against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the third inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on June 15, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The 2019 season has been rough on New York Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo. When should we start worrying?

My brother said this to me a few days ago and I think it holds true for how most New York Mets fans feel about their leadoff man: “The Mets could be down 15-1 every game but seeing Brandon Nimmo sprint to first base after taking ball four will never not make me smile.”

Nimmo has found a place in the hearts of the vast majority of Mets fans. During a horribly disappointing season in 2018, Nimmo (and his smile) was one of the few bright spots that shone: he was the Mets’ best hitter and gave fans something to cheer for.

The 26-year-old from Cheyenne, Wyoming has claimed an everyday starting outfielder position as well as the honor of being the Mets’ leadoff hitter. Since being called up to the majors in 2015, he has been consistently good and keeps improving.

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In 2018, while the rest of the Mets’ lineup struggled immensely, Nimmo slashed an impressive .263/.404/.483 and hit 17 home runs. His .404 OBP was second in the National League and fourth in the majors. He was also ninth in the league in walks and led the league in hit by pitches. Nimmo was great last year and impressed many.

However, his start to the 2019 season has not been a smooth one. Prior to Sunday’s game against the Washington Nationals, Nimmo had just two hits in 27 at-bats with a whopping 17 strikeouts.

In an interview, Mets skipper Mickey Callaway noted Nimmo’s problem was missing high fastballs and low breaking balls that he is usually able to successfully hit. Nimmo had been so bad that he was pulled halfway through Saturday’s game after going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and was not included in Sunday’s starting lineup.

Even though the Mets have been one of the hottest teams in the league to begin this season and we have not seen much to be concerned about, people could not help but ask themselves this weekend: when should we start worrying about Nimmo? Having your lead-off man struggle is never good, so this could prove to be problematic in the future.

On Sunday, the Mets found themselves in an unfortunate predicament early on against the Nationals and needed offense, badly. Nimmo was substituted in during the fifth inning. In his second at-bat of the game, against Max Scherzer, he knocked in an RBI double.

Also, during that game, he hit two of his four hardest hit balls of the season. His clutch hit and the fact that he made good contact during his other at-bats has to be a sign of good things to come.  What makes this even more impressive is that Nimmo has a pretty bad track record against Scherzer: he entered the game 2-for-16 with 11 strikeouts in his career against the three-time Cy Young winner.

I believe it is much too early to worry about Nimmo and that we should watch Tuesday’s game with optimism that he will find his groove again. The season started less than two weeks ago, so serious concern is unwarranted at this point. If we find ourselves having the same conversation in May, then that is a different story.

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But for now, we must remain hopeful and positive that Nimmo and his glowing smile will start to rake along with the rest of the lineup sooner rather than later.

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