Bobby Parnell The Setup Guy? Not So Fast…

An article by posted on June 1, 2009

Colin Stephenson of the Star Ledger, wrote an interesting article focusing on yesterday’s eight inning when Jerry Manuel yanked J.J. Putz and replaced him with Bobby Parnell.

He writes,

Did Manuel have any hesitation to bring in the rookie to relieve the veteran, former closer Putz?

“I brought him in, didn’t I?” Manuel snapped when asked the question.

Manuel has made no secret about how much love and trust he has for Parnell, the hard-throwing right-hander, saying often that if Francisco Rodriguez isn’t available to close a game, and if Putz isn’t available, he would happily give the ball to Parnell. And now, the question has to be if Manuel is close to taking the eighth inning role away from Putz (1-3, 3.81 ERA, one save, one blown save) and give it to Parnell (2-0, 2.11, no saves, two blown saves).

I don’t believe Parnell is ready to take over as a setup guy just yet. I haven’t seen enough evidence to suggest he is even ready for such a role.

Some may quickly point to both of their ERA’s and say that Parnell’s ERA is a full run lower, but does that really mean anything?

There are better statistics one could use to judge the effectiveness of a reliever, and in my opinion you should throw ERA out of the window when it comes to relievers. It really is a poor barometer for measuring success.

Some better indicators to look at for a reliever are inherited runners, inherited runners scored, opposing batting average, opposing on-base percentage, and WHIP.

To begin, Putz has a solid track record of success as both a setup man and a closer. He was considered one of the top closers in the A.L. before coming to the Mets and taking over setup duties. Let’s not let our enthusiasm of Parnell sweep all that experience under the carpet.

So far this season, Parnell has logged 21 innings compared to 28 innings for Putz. In those innings, Parnell has inherited 8 runners and allowed 3 of them to score. Putz on the other hand has inherited 3 and with none scoring.

Opposing batters are hitting a robust .296 against Parnell. That’s a huge red flag and could indicate a strong potential for failure as a setup man. His opposing on-base percentage is totally unacceptable for a late game option at .370. Actually, a .370 opposing on-base is unacceptable for any pitcher. 

As poor as Putz has been lately, he still has an impressive .226 Opposing BA and an even better .297 Opposing on-base percentage.

The fact that Parnell only has a 2.11 ERA tells me that he has been extremely lucky based on his other underlying stats. There’s no way he will sustain that level unless he improves his performance in the other areas.

Putz on the other hand, has not been as lucky. But his underlying numbers suggest that his performance will get better.

Parnell has not outperformed Putz and yet the perception is that he has. Parnell has allowed hits in 17 of his 25 appearances, and he has walked 9 batters on top of that.

Florida and Washington have hit him pretty hard this season and there’s a good reason for that, they got their first look at Parnell last season when he was called up in September. As more and more teams get a look at Parnell, they’ll make adjustments too.

I’m not knocking Parnell, I think he has a lot of potential.

All I’m saying is let’s not be too quick to pull Putz out of the setup role just because Parnell hit 100 MPH on the radar gun during a game in Boston.

It takes more than velocity to succeed as a setup man.

About the Author ()

I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.

Comments are closed.