Bobby Parnell was told from the beginning of spring training that he should prepare to become the New York Mets‘ closer come Opening Day. The 28-year old right-hander has spent his time in camp getting into a closer’s mindset, as this will be his first opportunity to start the season in that role.
Parnell has always had the stuff of a closing pitcher, with a 96 mph fastball in his repertoire. However, he has never shown the maturity and consistency to be the team’s closer. Parnell has blown 11 saves in 24 appearances as a closer in the last two seasons.
Frank Francisco closed for the team last season, but had suffered through an inconsistent and injury-plagued campaign in New York. Francisco is still recovering from elbow surgery and began throwing off of a mound last week, and he will likely start the season on the disabled list. Even with a healthy Francisco, Parnell deserves the chance to be the team’s closer.
Parnell finished last season on a high note, on an 11.1 scoreless innings streak with three saves during that time. He is hoping to build off of that success this season, and has reportedly carried the confidence he gained during that span into spring training.
On Monday, in a Grapefruit League game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Parnell threw a scoreless ninth inning earning his second save of spring training. Manger Terry Collins is reportedly impressed with the young pitcher’s new mindset as a closer, and sees him as a long-term option in that role.
Parnell will get his full chance to be the Mets’ closer come April 1 and finally appears ready for the opportunity.