Nabil Crismatt has fared plenty of success in the Mets organization, but has remained somewhat under the radar.
Crismatt recently gained some notoriety when he started the qualifying match for Colombia versus Panama for the World Baseball Classic. Colombia qualified, and Crismatt pitched in a game versus the Dominican Republic that went to 11 innings, allowing just 2 earned runs in his start against some of the major leagues most talented hitters.
2017 was his first year as a full-time starter, and he yielded excellent results early on winning Player of the Week in the Florida State League, and Pitcher of the Month honors for St. Lucie.
During the 2017 season, Crismatt more than doubled his previous mark for most innings in a season, from 65.2 innings in 2016, to 145.2 innings in 2017. He held a 3.95 ERA, alongside an 8.77 K/9, and a 2.22 BB.9. His most prolific stretch ranged from the start of the season, till July 20th, where he went 107 innings with a 3.03 ERA with a 9.34 K/9 and 2.02 BB/9. The workload was something new for Crismatt, but he adjusted well by the end on the season only allowing two runs in his final two starts, over 11 innings pitched.
Crismatt has started the 2018 campaign with double-A Binghamton blazing. In three starts, he a 1.10 ERA, 0.97 FIP, and 1.65 xFIP, over 16.1 innings. His strikeout and walk ratios have returned to numbers more comparable to where they were when he was a swingman/reliever, currently holding an 11.57 K/9 and 1.65 BB/9. He’s also putting up an excellent groundball ratio at 56.8 per cent.
Crismatt is a control artist. He doesn’t throw particularly hard, with a fastball that often sits in the low 90’s, but he has an excellent change up, and is able to locate a number of other pitches for strikes as well. He uses his varied repertoire to keep hitters off balance, and works the zones to his favor.
The following interview happened on April 2nd, 2018, just before the start of Binghamtom’s season. This interview captures the impact of baseball culturally for Crismatt, new preparation methods during the offseason, his friendship with Chicago Cubs pitcher, José Quintana, and a few other subjects.
MMN: Being that soccer is the most popular sport in your home of Colombia, how did baseball captivate your interests?
Crismatt: Since I was young, I grew up with baseball. My grandfather played baseball all of his life, and most of my family played for fun. From there, my father introduced me to it when I was three-years old, and thanks to God, I am here where I am right now, and I hope to continue moving forward.
MMN: Given your early introduction to the sport, were there any players that you looked up to as a youth?
Crismatt: Yeah, I used to like to watch players like (Derek) Jeter. As a pitcher, I also really liked watching Cliff Lee. Beyond that, I admired Édgar Rentería, who is from my home city, and helped further my interest in baseball.
MMN: Were you always a pitcher growing up?
Crismatt: On top being a pitcher, I also used to play some third base. I was always more comfortable as a pitcher though, and at 15, I had the chance to go to the Dominican Republic, which is where I signed as a pitcher.
MMN: Do you think there’s been a cultural shift towards baseball in Colombia recently?
Crismatt: Honestly, yes. Thanks to God we currently have 5 Colombians in the Major Leagues including some well-known pitchers like José Quintana and Julio Teherán, who have represented our country very well. I feel there are many representatives from Colombia in the minor leagues right now all reaching for the same goal. We also had the opportunity to qualify for the World Baseball Classic, and we put a solid effort there as well. They’re actually building a new stadium as well, which will be named after Édgar Rentería.
MMN: Wow, I wasn’t aware of that.
Crismatt: Yeah, it’s going to be a new center in Barranquilla, (Colombia) which will host Central American baseball and the Caribbean Series as well, and will be named after Édgar Rentería. I’d say baseball is definitely moving forward in Colombia right now.
MMN: You’re also from Barranquilla, am I right?
Crismatt: Yes. I’m also from Barranquilla.
MMN: How did the Mets end up signing you? Were you aware that they had any interest in you?
Crismatt: Well, when I was 15, as I mentioned earlier, I got to play in the Dominican Republic with a talent host named Miguel Delgado. When I was 16 I did a try out at the Mets camp in Boca Chica. From there they communicated with me. I always felt comfortable in their camp, and I thank God that I ended up with this organization.
MMN: Having signed with the Mets officially in 2011, how do you feel you have matured within that time?
Crismatt: Well, I feel I’ve matured a lot. Every year I’m learning something new. The Mets organization has consistently helped me develop as a player, and I really appreciate that. I feel I’m at a point in my career where I keep pushing forward, with the help of God, to get to the Major League level, and hopefully stay there as well.
MMN: We’ve got to tell you, your last year has been really impressive. Starting with your representing Colombia in the World Baseball Classic. Given the fact that you faced your highest level of competition there, how do you feel it changed your preparation for your season with St. Lucie?
Crismatt: Well, it made me realize that baseball is going to be the same everywhere you go. My main focus has to be locating my pitches, and being more than just a thrower, and really be a pitcher. I’ve always tried to keep that in mind, as well as knowing that baseball for me is where one locates their pitches, no matter where one is pitching, and that will produce the outs that I need to get. I did the same in the World Baseball Classic and got some positive results. Sometimes people focus too much on names and end up adding pressure onto themselves, but we have to focus on getting the ball where we want it to go above all.
MMN: Over the last handful of months, we’ve also noticed that you’ve been working with Mike Barwis and his program. How did his program change your regiment for preparation?
Crismatt: Truthfully, it was a really interesting program. I feel like I learned a lot from it. Learning more about my body, and strengthening the parts that I need to strengthen. I definitely feel I took a lot from it, and if I were given the opportunity to go back, I certainly would.
MMN: And what was it like working with the company at the Barwis camp, being that a number of the Major League players were also there?
Crismatt: There were a number of good people there like Wilmer Flores and Yoenis Cespedes, and they all made me feel very comfortable. The environment there is very positive, and they make you feel like you’re a part of a family. I spent a month there, and it was a great time.
MMN: You’ve also posted via your twitter account that you worked this offseason with Cubs pitcher José Quintana. What was that experience like?
Crismatt: Yeah, I’ve actually been working with José for about 6 years now. I was working with him in January as to not lose the routine that I’ve developed. He’s been a huge influence for me, and I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s always lent me a hand from the moment I signed up till now. He’s given me many tips over the last six years and I’m always learning something new. José is a person who is very dedicated to his work and is extremely hard-working and that has helped me a lot.
MMN: How did you meet José Quintana?
Crismatt: I met him a short time after signing. We ended up speaking for a while and connecting well, and have been good friends since. Since then he’s just helped me out at every step, and gives good advice. We stay in contact with one another. It’s been solid support on both ends; I pay attention when he pitches, and he pays attention when I pitch, and we give each other tips. I sometimes laugh about it because it’s crazy to think that someone of his level would ask me for my input, but we do learn from each other, and I always try to take every bit I can, and put it in practice.
MMN: How was Spring Training?
Crismatt: I actually felt really good. My last two outings, one was 4 scoreless innings versus Washington, and the last one was 5 shutout innings versus Las Vegas. I feel it was a good way to go into the new season. Working so hard during the offseason, I feel that there are going to be good times ahead. My body feels great physically, and I’m going to do my best to help out this team.
MMN: Last offseason you mentioned wanting to add a slider to your repertoire. How did that go for you?
Crismatt: It went pretty well. I utilized it plenty during spring to get confortable with it for the regular season. I know I’m not a guy who throws 95 or 96 miles per hour, so I’ve got to work to my strengths. Working on locating every pitch I have consistently, up and down, as well as inside and out. Doing that is going to lead to me getting the outs that I need to get. Taking things one batter at a time just trying help this team win as many games as possible.
MMO: 2017 was the first year that you reached the 100-inning threshold with a bit over 145 innings over the full season. How does it feel to have broken through to that level?
Crismatt: You know, I hadn’t realized when I first got there. The first half of the season was going by so smoothly, and I was having a bunch of fun. I realized in the second half that I was having some ups and downs, but I knew what I needed to work on.
This offseason, I had to work on my durability so that I don’t think of 145 as a mark, but that I could go beyond that, be it 160 innings, or whatever that mark is going to be this year. I want to surpass that goal this year to show that I’m a person who can surpass whatever achievements I’ve set previously for myself. On top of that is always staying healthy. The innings, the results all will come as long as I’m healthy, so I train and work to always stay healthy, which I feel is the most important thing.
MMN: 2017 was a year full of highlights for you, including your first career complete game against the Jupiter Hammerheads (Marlins advanced-A team), in which you struck out 13 and didn’t issue a single walk. What can you tell us about that start?
Crismatt: Well I did get a complete game that start, but we couldn’t get the win. Nevertheless, I was happy with myself. I was glad to have reached a goal of getting a complete game. We battled the whole way through till the ninth inning but just came up short. People sometimes ask me what I’m doing different when I get a lot of strikeouts, and honestly, I’m not doing anything different. I just try to locate my pitches, and the strikeouts seem to find themselves.
MMO: You know, you attracted a bit of attention in the first half of the season winning Player of the Week for the Florida State League in May, and winning Pitcher of the Month for St. Lucie in June. What were you doing that made you so effective in your first season as a full-time starter?
Crismatt: A lot of it was mental preparation. I think about the game a lot in my down time. Just trying to stay ahead of the game. I wasn’t the ace of the squad last year, so I tried to watch the other staff members and see how other teams played off of them, and watching a lot of video. That helped me go out there and compete. Being prepared helped me get to where to where I wanted to be with myself, pitch-by-pitch, and give the best that I’ve got.
MMN: Last question for you. What are your goals for 2018 campaign?
Crismatt: First and foremost, I want to stay healthy. That’s the first goal that I’ve got in my mind. I trained very hard, both mentally and physically, so I feel that there’s going to be some positive results in 2018. I’m not trying to get ahead of myself, but I feel that something great has to happen this year given how much preparation I’ve put into the last 7 years, and this offseason in particular. When I go on the mound, I just know that I’m going to give my all to help my team win as many games as I can.
MMN: Nabil, I want to thank you for taking the time out to speak to us this evening, and we all look forward to seeing you in Queens soon.
Crismatt: Without a doubt. We hope that very, very soon, with God’s favor, I can be there soon. It’s just going to be on me to continue to be diligent in my preparation for that to happen. Hopefully, with God’s help, I’ll be healthy enough for that to be a reality, and I’ll be happy to help the big club whenever I’m blessed with the opportunity.