Michael Conforto was the call-up that gave the Mets a spark in the summer of 2015, and this summer, it appears his replacement is the one that could give them the energy they need to make a run.
Brandon Nimmo, who the Mets first-round draft pick in 2011 when he was just 18 years old, was called up last Saturday and Conforto was sent down.
Nimmo was inserted immediately into the lineup, and the kid from Wyoming has impressed manager Terry Collins.
“I think he’s handled himself great. I thought he swung the bat very well,” Collins said of Nimmo on Thursday afternoon. “He made some nice plays in the outfield. As I told the writers yesterday, he throws the ball better than I thought he might have.
“He’s brought a little energy, he’s real excited, pretty excitable guy – we need some energy right now. He’s put some good at-bats on, let’s see if he can start the game. One thing being a pitcher or hitter is, sometimes you can have the advantage if they don’t know you.”
So, Nimmo was put in the leadoff spot on Thursday night against the Cubs, as Curtis Granderson is battling a calf injury and it worked.
In seventh inning, with the Mets the Mets trailing 3-1, Nimmo laced a single to sore Travis d’Arnaud for his first major-league RBI.
“He’s a young man that’s got a lot of confidence in himself and we let him go up because of the at-bats he put on Max (Scherzer) last night,” Collins said. “A tremendous at-bat, I mean, (Joel) Peralta can be really, really tough with the split. He fouled off some good pitches and finally got something he could handle. I’m very impressed with how he did it.”
Nimmo would score himself, along with Alejandro deAza, when Javier Baez threw it away at third base on a Neil Walker grounder.
That gave the Mets a 4-3 lead, and they held on for the big win over the Cubs.
They needed this one in a big way after being swept by the Nationals, and they improve to 41-37 on the season.
“I don’t know what to say yet, but it sure came at the right time,” Collins said of the win. “To come back against that team, first game of this 11-game homestand, I think it’s huge for us, lifted the spirits of everybody to know they can come back and win a game, which we haven’t done that in awhile. I think it’s a real, real big win for us.”
This is the kind of win that shows that they can grind out games and that this is a good team.
Any lineup that includes Yoenis Cespedes, who homered in the sixth, Neil Walker, and Asdrubal Cabrera, is good enough to win games.
With David Wright and Lucas Duda out for an indefinite period of time, the focus is on what the Mets can do at the trade deadline.
The big question is, can the Mets duplicate what they did last year?
On July 31, 2015, right after the trade deadline passed, the Mets shocked the baseball world when they brought in the best player available, Cespedes.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson spoke on Thursday afternoon ahead of the start of their four game series with the Cubs, and addressed the issue of making a big trade.
“What I’ve said before is that there is no single acquisition, at least that I can see, that’s going to change what’s transpired over the last two months,” he said. “It’s going to have to come from within.
“There may be things that we can do that can improve the team. We’ve done various things over the last couple of months to try to improve the team. Certainly we’ll be monitoring the market. But I don’t believe right now that an acquisition is going to make a big difference for us.
“We get Juan Lagares back, [Jose] Reyes makes a contribution, who knows where little marginal improvements — hitting with men in scoring position across the board — those are the kinds of things that are going to make a difference over the next three months.”
Alderson is right that the Mets have to win with the roster they have, that they can’t count on him pulling a rabbit out of the hat.
The only immediate move to be be made is when Reyes joins the Mets during this pivotal 11-game homestand, with four against the Cubs, three against the Marlins, and four against Washington.
With Nimmo here and Reyes on the way, the Mets are more likely to start manufacturing runs.
Most of the Mets offense this season has come via the home run, with Cespedes leading the way with 19 and Walker right behind him with 14.
For most of the season, the Mets led the National League in homers, but have slipped to fourth with 98 As they have slipped, wins have been hard to come by, and 17-9 turned into 41-37.
“The power has more or less disappeared,” Alderson said. “Whether we’re chasing poor pitches in the strike zone as opposed to being a little more selective is maybe a different story. But it’s hard to tell exactly what has happened.”
The Mets on Thursday night showed they could win with the lineup, and it all starts with the kid from Wyoming.