On June 25 reliever Brandon Nall took the mound at NYSEG Stadium for the first time in exactly six weeks. As May in Binghamton wore on, Nall lost consistency in his mechanics and soon his spot on the roster. Now, he is back in the Eastern League and ready to put his trouble behind.
Entering the June 25 matchup versus Harrisburg in the sixth inning, Brandon Nall started leadoff man Marcos Yepez with three quick strikes, the third of which Yepez grounded to shortstop Jose Coronado. The next batter could do no better, grounding out to short as well. Josh Whitesell, already 3-for-3, in a game the B-Mets lost 6-2, struck out to end the inning. The first two batters Nall faced in the seventh? They struck out too. For good measure, Nall ended his outing with a ground out to Coronado.
It was not always that easy. The side-arm right-hander posted an 11.25 ERA in 15 appearances for the B-Mets before heading to St. Lucie.
“I have to be straight,” Nall said. “It was just confidence, when I was here I didn’t have a lot of belief in my pitching, and you can’t go out there and not trust your stuff.”
In the Florida State League Nall struck out 21 and walked just three, posting a 2.21 ERA in 20 1/3 innings. He was called up to the B-Mets on June 22, then two days later, his catcher from St. Lucie, Drew Butera, got the call to Binghamton as well.
“For (Nall) to get back down to me, one, it lit a fire under his rear,” Butera said. “Two, being back with somebody he knows and is comfortable with gives him the confidence to know that in the game he can basically do anything and I’ll be there with him.”
Like many on the B-Mets’ staff, Nall was thrown off by the many postponements Binghamton’s notoriously poor spring weather brought. It also was not the first time Nall started the season on the wrong foot.
“Last year I got off to a bad start in Hagerstown,” Nall said. “I started off in the hole, kind of like here (in Binghamton), but you know, after you get 25 or 30 innings you get grooved. Early in the season, the first ten, 15 innings you’re just trying to find yourself. It’s really hit or miss sometimes.”
A lean 6-foot-5, Nall’s best pitches are his slider and fastball, with his third pitch a change-up. Butera said he has been calling for more sliders to start at-bats, believing that the slider helps Nall to find the proper arm slot for his fastball. Like many sidearm and submarine right-handers, Nall struggles with left-handed hitters.
In his work with B-Mets pitching coach Ricky Bones, Nall said he just wants to maintain.
“When you’re in a groove we try to keep it there,” Nall said. “That’s it. Having a repeatable delivery, consistent mechanics, and consistent arm slot; if you can do the same thing over and over again, you’re consistently going to be in the strike zone and you’re going to be able to make those finer pitches on the corners that you need to get guys out - with all your pitches.”
In his first outing back with the B-Mets, Nall did all those things. With his confidence back, Nall has more than half a season to correct the mistakes of his first month and a half.
“It was time for him to come back,” said Mets minor league pitching coordinator Rick Waits. “We have no doubt about his ability, he has no doubt about his ability, now he’s back and he’s on his way.”