Posted on May 22, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
In less than a week, the New York Mets outfield has turned into the walking wounded. On Wednesday, the Mets placed Brandon Nimmo on the 10-day Injured List with a stiff neck. The move comes less than a week after Michael Conforto was placed on the IL with a concussion. In between, the Mets traded Keon Broxton to the Orioles, leaving them with a limited number of outfielders on the active roster.
Nimmo underwent an MRI on Tuesday and was officially diagnosed with a stiff neck. The Mets didn’t go into much detail beyond that regarding the severity of Nimmo’s neck issue. The club also gave no indication as to whether Nimmo’s stay on the IL could be quick or if he’s in danger of missing a significant chunk of the season.
“It’s been off and on for four weeks now,” Nimmo said of his neck problem. “It would go away for a couple days and come back. … It’s like a sharp pain.”
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Neither the Mets or Nimmo are blaming the neck for his subpar performance this season. However, battling a neck issue for the past month could explain why he’s hitting .200 with an OPS of .667 on the season. Despite a drop-off in productivity, Nimmo remains an important part of the New York outfield, especially with Conforto sidelined and Yoenis Cespedes on the shelf long-term. Nimmo is a more than capable defensive player and versatile enough to play all three outfield positions.
With both Conforto and Nimmo on the Il, the Mets have called up Carlos Gomez and Rajai Davis. Both are major league veterans the team signed to minor league deals during the offseason. Gomez and Davis are now two of the three true outfielders the Mets have on their roster, along with Juan Lagares. In short, the Mets don’t have many options in the outfield while they wait to see if Gomez and Davis can still produce in the big leagues.
To be fair, the Mets have used longtime infielder Jeff McNeil almost exclusively in the outfield this season. But he’s also missed a couple of games recently with nagging injuries. Amidst all of the injuries, the Mets were forced to use infielder J.D. Davis as their starting left fielder in Wednesday’s game against the Nationals. That’s after Davis and McNeil finished Tuesday’s game as the team’s corner outfielders.
“[J.D.] Davis, today, is one of our starting outfielders, not by choice,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said before Wednesday’s game. “That’s who we have. … Things don’t always go to plan, and you have to make adjustments along the way to be the best team we can possibly be.”
Offensively, Davis and McNeil have been two of New York’s better hitters this season. However, both are inexperienced in the outfield defensively. The injuries to Nimmo and Conforto will force the Mets to use more of Lagares, Gomez, and Rajai Davis in the outfield. At least two of the three are likely to be in the lineup moving forward. Lagares has struggled offensively this year, as has Gomez since his call-up, making the absence of Conforto and Nimmo all the more noticeable.
One way or another, the Mets need to find a way to survive this stretch without their two most important outfielders. The club is already struggling to keep up in the NL East. With both Conforto and Nimmo seemingly out indefinitely, things could get worse for New York before they get better.