MIAMI — Buck Showalter, as usual, was in good spirits prior to Saturday’s game.
Part of it might be a return to his home state of Florida, or the generally relaxed nature that most players and coaches exude on the road, but the main reason is definitely how well his team has been playing.
On Friday night, Brandon Nimmo’s eighth-inning home run put the finishing touches on the Marlins. In his first year managing Nimmo, Showalter gave his take on why the longtime Met has been flourishing.
“I think you’re seeing a guy really understanding himself,” Showalter said. “He’s one of the last guys to leave the park. Watching highlights, eating with the clubbies. He’s engaged.”
A player with such an insatiable appetite for baseball would seem like a manager’s dream. But there’s a downside to it as well. Showalter was asked directly if he’s ever worried that Nimmo will burn himself out, or if he’s ever had to tell his center fielder to just go home and do literally anything else besides hitting in the cage or analyzing video.
“I’ve done that,” Showalter said, with a little nod to his kindred spirit.
“I’m like that. There’s certain things I have to do to feel like we have an edge the next day. I know he feels the same way.”
According to FanGraphs, Nimmo is only a few decimal points away from matching his production from last year. In 2021, a finger injury kept him out for a prolonged period, and he still put up a respectable 3.3 Wins Above Replacement. In 2022, with two full months of the regular season still ahead of him, Nimmo has already been worth 3.1 WAR.
Showalter has also noticed some off the field things about the emerging center fielder, who will be a free agent at the end of the season. Most keen observers have seen the defensive improvements or the reduced strikeout rate, but the Mets’ skipper also said that Nimmo has been speaking up more in the team’s pregame hitters’ meetings, doing so “with a lot of confidence.”
That confidence certainly comes from the sensational season he’s having, as well as his status as the team’s longest-tenured position player, but also probably a bit from knowing in the back of his mind that he’s about to get a lot richer.
PARADA SIGNS FOR $5 MILLION
Speaking of getting richer, Mets’ first-round pick Kevin Parada entered a new tax bracket.
The catcher out of Georgia Tech taken with the 11th pick of the 2022 draft inked a deal with the Mets that came with a $5,019,735 signing bonus, per reports. One year after failing to agree to a deal with first-round pick Kumar Rocker, this helps the Mets avoid a second straight headache.
Jett Williams — the high schooler taken with the compensation pick the Mets received for not landing Rocker — officially signed with the club last week and made his unofficial Citi Field debut to answer reporters’ questions and try on a Mets uniform. Parada will likely do the same once the team returns from its road trip.
BIENVENIDO A MIAMI
To quote the great Reggie Jackson, Starling Marte has been the straw that stirs the Mets’ drink this season.
He’s been the ultimate do-it-all guy, hitting for power and average, stealing bases and playing defense that nobody has to worry about. He’s also very comfortable in South Florida. After gutting the Marlins for three more hits on Friday, Marte owned a .305 lifetime batting average with eight homers in exactly 300 plate appearances at Miami’s loanDepot Park.
Saturday brought his 72nd game at the stadium, which was his home for parts of 2020 and 2021. Aside from PNC Park in Pittsburgh, which he reported to for eight years as a Pirate, the wonderfully wacky warehouse in Miami is the place where Marte has played the most.
“There’s not a set way to pitch him,” Showalter said. “The good hitters sometimes make the scouting reports look a little off.
BUCK THE COMEDIAN
Edwin Diaz came one strike away from completing an immaculate inning on Friday.
The noteworthy feat, which is when a pitcher strikes out the side on nine pitches, escaped Diaz by a foul ball. Joey Wendle spoiled an 0-2 pitch in the game’s final at-bat before striking out on the very next one that left Diaz’s hand. Instead of the fabled immaculate inning, Diaz had to settle for a ho-hum, 10-pitch save. His manager found the humor in that.
‘He’s a failure,” Showalter said sarcastically. “He’s on the trading block.”