Manny Parra Has High Potential In Specialist Role With Cincinnati Reds

By Thom Tsang
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Even with the pending starter conversion experiment to Aroldis Chapman on the way on 2013, the Cincinnati Reds‘ bullpen is still quite deep in talent, with the likes of Sam Lecure and Jose Arrendondo backing up a back-to-form Jonathon Broxton, who steps into the big shoes of the team’s former elite closer.

What they do lack, though, are left-handed pitchers. Yes, Sean Marshall is going to provide a stable presence in that role next year, but outside of that, the team doesn’t really have another lefty who can fill the specialist role besides Tony Cingrani, who was a September call-up last season with just five innings under his belt.

It’s not been a secret that GM Walt Jocketty had been looking for someone to provide secondary depth from the left side, and he found his man yesterday in veteran Manny Parra by signing him to a one-year, $1 million contract to provide some backup to Marshall in 2013.

A lifetime member of the Milwaukee Brewers until this point, Parra’s surface counting numbers aren’t going to impress anyone – he’s posted an ERA above five in each of his last three seasons, along with a WHIP of over 1.62. A former starter, he lost that role with the Brewers in 2011 when elbow problems caused him to miss the entire season, and his continued struggles in 2012 should make him one of the very worst relievers in the league.

That is, until you take a closer look at his splits, anyway.

See, Manny Parra had never very good over his career, he showed surprising proficiency against LHB as a reliever last season. Sure, right-handers were still teeing off to a tune of a .294 BA, but the former Brewer still managed to hold lefties to a .229 BAA. His wildness against righties is also significantly diminished against batters from the other side, as he struck them out at a rate of 10.36 K/9.

A 2.75 K/BB and a strikeout rate of over 10, with a below-.230 BAA? That doesn’t just make Parra a good depth piece. As long as he doesn’t face right-handers – something that he should not be allowed to do under any circumstance next year – the Reds could have just gotten a near-elite LOOGY at a discount price.

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