Brandon Nimmo had an incredible game on Sunday in his first start since being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas, smashing three hits including a triple and a home run. His season OPS is up to an eye-popping 1.371 and the Mets are in a real bind as they simply have to find a way to keep his bat in a crowded outfield.
In only 21 plate appearances so far, Nimmo has gotten on base an incredible 12 times while striking out only twice. This is certainly a small sample, and while he won't produce like a peak Barry Bonds all season, Nimmo is on track for the best walk and strikeout rates of his career -- as well as his best hard-hit rate and line drive rate.
Always a patient hitter, Nimmo is swinging less than ever, but pummeling the ball when he does hit. He is the consummate leadoff hitter the team has been lacking for so long and if the team is waiting for him to cool off, it might be a long wait.
The most obvious solution to this problem (the best kind of problem to have, but a problem nonetheless) is to give some rest to the other outfielders. Yoenis Cespedes, stuck in a slump to start the season, is the top candidate for a day off, though he's a gamer who wants to be out there every day. But unless he starts to break out in a big way, it'll time to give him a breather. Michael Conforto has cooled off a bit since his return from shoulder surgery and is probably also due for a rest.
There has been a long ongoing conversation about giving Jay Bruce some reps at first base, a position he's played at in only a handful of games. He has been somewhat reluctant to make the move, even temporarily, but even just a once-a-week stint would help the Mets optimize their lineup.
Adrian Gonzalez, who has had some memorable hits so far, still has a season OPS below .700. And while it might be a bit too soon to call it quits on the veteran -- especially with Dominic Smith only just recently back in Las Vegas after being sidelined all of Spring Training -- the team isn't missing much by letting him ride the bench sometimes.
Complicating the Mets' decision process in getting Nimmo on the field is that the only outfielder with significant handedness splits is…Nimmo. His fellow lefties, Conforto and Bruce, favor right-handed pitching only slightly and while Nimmo is certainly at a point in his career where he can start to make big strides in his splits, it's difficult to justify sitting any of the three starters against a lefty for Nimmo's career .538 OPS. His next shot for a start will probably be against Wednesday's starter, righty Tanner Roark, although the team may also consider giving him a chance Monday night as something of a reward for his prowess this weekend.
In the meantime, it's hard to imagine a better weapon off the bench, where Nimmo is a career .387/.400/.484 hitter. With the rare ability to come up to bat cold and produce like that, as well as experience at all three outfield positions, he's going to get his playing time. But the Mets would be wise to make the most of it, as he is blossoming into a very special player.
Maggie Wiggin (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Archive Posts) has been a Mets fan since birth and a MetsBlog contributor since 2013. She loves throwing hard and hitting hard and hates the DH. When baseball is out of season, she fills her days with data analysis and evaluation and patiently waits for Spring