The New York Mets announced this evening that closer Bobby Parnell will have Tommy John surgery after a MRI discovered a ligament tear in his pitching elbow after the Mets’ Opening Day loss to the Washington Nationals.
Parnell was originally supposed to wait a couple weeks after a platelet-rich plasma injection to see if the any healing began, but he decided against it instead. Parnell was returning from a neck injury that required surgery late last season. Before that, he was developing into one of the game’s better closers with a fastball that would touch the high 90s.
The Mets are already without Matt Harvey for the year after he opted for Tommy John surgery when an MRI discovered a slight tear in his UCL (Ulnar Collateral Ligament).
The bullpen has been the Achilles’ heel of the Mets pitching staff in the early going. This is just one more blow that the group may not be able to withstand.
So what does this mean for the Mets going forward? The team is going to rely on Jose Valverde to close the door for them in the ninth inning. At 36 years old, Valverde can still bring it with a mid-90s fastball, but the question with him will be his psyche. Valverde was once a dominant closer. In his first two years with the Detroit Tigers, he recorded 51 straight saves, but in the last two, he couldn’t get anybody out. So if he can return to form, he will be a serviceable pitcher with the Mets.
The Mets will also rely on Kyle Farnsworth in late-game situations. In three outings this year, he holds a 2.70 ERA. With this news, it will be interesting to see if the Mets decide to fast-track some of their high-end pitching prospects to help out the bullpen, such as Jacob deGrom or Rafael Montero.
Either way, six games into the season, the Mets have to face some adversity.