New York Mets Hoping For Bullpen Contributions From Bobby Parnell

By Craig Williams

When the New York Mets addressed their bullpen with a mini-transaction spree on the Tuesday during the Winter Meetings, there was one guy who probably slipped a lot of people’s minds.  His name is Bobby Parnell and he has been a promising relief arm for the New York Mets over the past couple of seasons.  The only problem is, his results have not matched his raw skills.  The New York Mets and the fans are interested to see if he’ll be able to harness his stuff well enough to make the team out of Spring Training.

Based on the stats delivered by Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, Parnell does fine in the 7th and 8th inning (3.09, 3.10 ERA, respectively), but that number inflates to 5.19 when he’s pitching in the final frame – presumably in an attempt to save a game or maintain a tie.  No big deal.  There are several effective relief pitchers who can’t close. Ryan Madson was that guy for a while.  That’s what the Mets brought in Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco for.  With those two plus Ramon Ramirez in the fold, Parnell only needs to worry about the sixth inning – a role with a longer job description than you may think considering the…uh, mediocre…starting rotation.

I mentioned Parnell’s raw tools in the first paragraph.  He’s got a four-seamer that hits 100 mph frequently and his average fastball velocity in 2011 was 97.2 mph.  That’s a damn good start.  You know what they say though: big leaguers can catch up to just about any fastball if they know its coming.  Parnell does have a slider in his repertoire , but according to Martino, it may be a new curveball that helps him reach the next level.  Jason Isringhausen taught his understudy the hook this past season and Parnell says he started using the deuce toward the end of the year.  It’s a small sample size, but if you look at his game log you’ll see he didn’t surrender an earned run from September 8th through the remainder of the season.  Again, it’s a small sample so we shouldn’t try to draw any conclusions from it, but did the curveball have any hand in the success? Perhaps.

Whether the New York Mets carry Bobby Parnell north with them after Spring Training is up to him.  Not to state something that may be obvious, but there are two main things above anything else that I want from my relief pitchers – no matter the inning: lots of strikeouts and no walks.  Parnell has the tools to rack up K’s in waves, but he’s prone to bouts of wildness.  Bobby Parnell will help the New York Mets at some point, it’s just a matter of whether that help will come sooner or later.

For more thoughts and expectations of the New York Mets and their firemen, follow me on twitter @craigmwilliams.

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