We have all now learned that Brandon Nimmo’s injury is more than just a pain in the neck, but how serious is it really? The Mets have been tight-lipped about it from the beginning leading to there be only a few snippets of information available. What we do know is the outfielder’s absence from the lineup and lack of production while in it have been some of the major contributors to the team’s poor offensive numbers, as well as their slipping position in the standings.
Nimmo’s breakout 2018 season saw him hit for a 149 wRC+ (sixth in the majors!), lead the team in OBP and doubles, be second on the team in walks and runs, and offer defensive versatility in the outfield. That last attribute may be what the team misses most currently as they are considering to shift infielders to the corner outfield positions on a regular basis. His first half was stronger than his second half, but he still finished strong in September.
His 2019 could not be more different as he hit .200/.344/.323 before being placed on the IL almost a month ago. Those numbers should come with the acknowledgement that he began dealing with the neck ailment all the way back on April 14th when he slammed into the wall at the recently revisited SunTrust Park. That is five weeks with the injury and only two weeks prior. While his early struggles were well documented, this was most likely due to an over analyzation of a small sample size, something we do at the beginning of every season. In fact, the game before his injury saw him strike for three hits.
What exactly is this neck injury? It has been referred to as a bulging disk which is a spinal injury that usually heals in about six weeks. Whiplash has also been said to be plaguing him from that collision. As the calendar passes the nine weeks mark, we hear that Nimmo will be shut down for a whole additional month. Not only that but we are seeing Nimmo consult with David Wright’s doctor! A herniated disk (the more serious version of a bulging disk) was what ended Wright’s season in 2016.
There is no reason to believe what Nimmo is facing is as serious as Wright’s situation, especially only at 26 years old, but it makes us recall that one of the big reasons for his slow ascension to the major leagues was his proneness to injuries.
We can all agree that Nimmo is probably the last player to whom we would want this to happen, as his positive presence and work ethic is certainly being missed in the Mets’ clubhouse; however, it is quite possible that this positivity and determination led to these delays in the healing process of the injury.
Only a very small list of exercises can be done without moving the neck and baseball is certainly not on that list. For five weeks Nimmo battled his neck injury which only could have made it worse. The Mets training staff should have shut him down earlier.
An interview with MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo speaks to this, where he said: “I’m 26 years old. I had never had neck problems like this before. I take really good care of my body and try to prevent that stuff from happening, to warm it up. And so I was just like, ‘Man, why does this keep happening?’”
This supports the idea that he has continued to aggravate his injury. Part of the shoulder of the blame falls on Nimmo in addition to the Mets training staff since it was partially his decision to continue playing through the pain.
The results during this stretch were certainly not pretty; he batted a .177/.340/.266 slash line in 100 PA’s post injury.
When he landed on the IL it was said that his disk was not ruptured so surgery was not being considered, which bodes well for an earlier return. Hopefully this month of rest will help and he can start working back to action by the end of July. I doubt we will see him before August, giving him a proper six weeks to heal. Whether the Mets will be playing meaningful games by that point remains to be seen.