As the rest of the Mets showered and dressed and left, mixing in remarks about the awesome atmosphere at Citi Field that night when they beat the Yankees, Brandon Nimmo walked into the happy postgame clubhouse dripping sweat.
He wasn’t happy, at least not by his high standard. He was working. He has slumped lately and is trying to fix that, which on Tuesday meant a 20-minute high-intensity late-night session in the batting cage. The batting-practice pitcher stood closer to the plate than normal to create as much of a game-like a scenario as possible — the lower-speed pitches at a shorter distance mimicking the required reaction time — and fired fastballs and curveballs and the like at Nimmo. That was the drill he used to get better against lefthanders last year, so he is hoping it does the trick this time.
“It gives me that instant feedback, and I can try to make adjustments off of that,” Nimmo said. “I haven’t quite found that recipe yet. I’m hoping that the work I’m putting in there will translate soon.”
It hasn’t translated just yet. Nimmo is 3-for-22 with no extra-base hits and no walks since the All-Star break, a new nadir in a season that — on the whole — still rates as above average and one of the best on the Mets.
His production, though, has decreased each month, from a .879 OPS in April to .811 in May to .725 in June and .675 in July heading into the Mets’ series in Miami beginning Friday. The last time he had an OPS this low in a given month was May 2019, when he was playing through a neck injury that wound up costing him half the season.
Nimmo’s .294 on-base percentage in July is the lowest of his career in any month in which he has played regularly — a bizarre development for a guy whose offensive identity is centered around getting on base.
His problem lately is a swing that has gotten “long,” he said, which means he hasn’t been able to get the barrel on the ball. That has turned his usual sprayed line-drive hits into dinky grounders and routine pop-ups.
The easy part is identifying the issue. The hard part is fixing it. When batting recently, Nimmo has found himself thinking about two highly complicated concepts at the same time: His swing, including the way his hands and legs and the rest of his body is moving, and the pitch coming at him.
“When you’re out there you really just want to be thinking about swinging at the right pitch,” he explained. “But if you’re not doing the right things (with his swing) to get to the pitch, then you’re not even going to capitalize on it. You’re trying to find that balance of: How much do I think about that and how much do I think about swinging at the right pitch?
“Sometimes you get that instant feedback of ‘Oh, I pretty much just swung there not even recognizing the pitch.’ It’s like, OK, now I’m thinking too much about the mechanics. I gotta go back to focusing on the pitch, getting a good pitch to hit. Then you miss it and you’re like, ‘Ah, shoot, I wasn’t thinking enough about the mechanics of it or my intent to the ball.’”
Such is baseball. Hitting is hard.
Might his right wrist, bruised on the bone and sprained, be an issue? Nimmo downplayed that possibility, even though measures he has taken to avoid aggravating it include not shaking hands and switching bat models.
“No, it’s actually pretty good,” he said. “I feel healthy. I’m doing pretty good as far as health goes. Just going through one of those valleys through the season of not doing very well as far as finding the barrel.”
Brandon Nimmo got off to a great start in April, but his numbers have declined the past three months:
OBP SLG OPS
April .387 .492 .879
May .385 .426 .811
June .327 .398 .725
July .294 .380 .675