It’s only six games into the 2014 season, and things have already gone from bad to worse for the New York Mets’ bullpen. After blowing the save on opening day, the Mets thought closer Bobby Parnell would miss a month with an elbow injury. But now that Parnell is set to have Tommy John surgery, he’ll miss the entire season, which is a loss the Mets’ bullpen won’t be able to survive.
The Mets were fortunate to have signed veterans Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth before the season, and having two experienced relievers to handle the late innings will help. However, neither pitcher is capable of being the caliber of closer that Parnell was for the Mets last season. Both are more of a temporary fill-in than a permanent solution to the empty hole at the back of the Mets’ bullpen.
With the Mets being hopeful that Parnell would return from offseason neck surgery, they were unable to sign a free agent who wanted the guarantee of being a closer, and that is now coming back to haunt them.
The Mets do have several pitching prospects who will be ready to contribute out of the bullpen this season, but there’s no heir apparent to Parnell as the team’s closer. The closest is Vic Black, but a poor spring and questions about his control have him back in triple-A and unlikely to emerge as a dependable closer.
Not having a trustworthy closer at the back end of the bullpen will only magnify the problems the Mets have in middle relief, putting the entire bullpen in an impossible situation.
If losing their best starting pitcher, Matt Harvey, to Tommy John surgery before the season wasn’t bad enough, the Mets have now lost their best relief pitcher to Tommy John surgery. Both are profound losses to the team’s pitching staff. It’s clear six games into the season that the Mets have issues in the bullpen, and taking Parnell out of the equation for the entire season leaves little hope that those issues will be fixed.
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