For a team that was already beset by an injury to their best starting pitcher, Matt Harvey, the New York Mets got more bad news the morning following Opening Day when it was announced that their closer, and best relief pitcher, Bobby Parnell had a partial tear in the MCL of his pitching elbow.
Parnell, coming off surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck, didn’t appear to be at full strength when he blew the save against the Washington Nationals on Opening Day. His trademark high 90s fastball was sitting in the low 90s for most of his outing, but there’s no definitive word yet as to whether he injured the elbow by trying to compensate.
The New York bullpen, already being roasted over the coals after their abysmal performance in the first game of the season, takes yet another hit and this one could be particularly crippling. Jose Valverde, who was the only reliable setup man for the Mets on Opening Day, will now have to shift back to the closer role which will cause a domino effect on the rest of the ‘pen. The Mets will reportedly call up veteran Kyle Farnsworth to take Parnell’s spot, but Farnsworth, traditionally a hard thrower, was having trouble breaking 90 in Spring Training.
Without Parnell at the back of the bullpen, general manager Sandy Alderson‘s inability to bring in insurance policies beyond Valverde is particularly glaring. Even if Parnell had been 100 percent healthy and not coming off surgery, New York still should’ve had some kind of contingency plan that didn’t involve relying heavily on Spring Training invites. As such, the Mets are stuck with a bullpen devoid of its best pitcher and perhaps only difference maker a mere one game into the season.
For a team that purportedly is trying to meet the challenge set by Alderson of 90 wins, this is a very inauspicious beginning to what could be another long season.