When you think of closers in this generation, you think of flame throwing pitchers who are able to come in and shut down the opposition for one inning. The Firemen era, where closers handled 3 innings and got the traditional save, will no longer be visited. It comes down to a point in the game where the one inning closer is extremely overvalued compared to the legendary closers of history. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to put down Mariano or Hoffman or even Franco, but when you put them up against Gossage, Eckersley, Fingers, Sutter, Wilhelm? Well. Regardless, Mariano and Hoffman never got 17.5 million and K-rod sure didn’t deserve it. When you look at the likely road the Mets will take for this year, Parnell or Beato will probably get the shot to be the closer for them. Parnell is more likely – based on experience and the stuff he packs.
Robert Allen Parnell – He’ll be 27 in September and throws ridiculously hard. This is his 4th year in the majors. His average fastball speed for the past two years is 96.45 – and his fastball sits above 95 with regularity. He works with a slider and as of this year, a two-seam fastball (or some variation of it.) One of the reasons for his success this year is that he’s mixing in that moving fastball, or two-seam variant, a lot more often. According to Fan Graphs, his career 4-Seam percentage is 73.5% – while his rate this year is 53.2%. His two-seam rate is up to 19.8%, a serious increase on the 0.9% from last year. His slider usage percentage is also up. So what’s the deal from all the numbers? Parnell throws hard, he’s throwing a fastball with more movement, and he’s trying to mix in the slider more. His WHIP is 1.33 which is… it needs to be improved. The walks aren’t killing but the hits allowed are. The fact that he focuses on his fastball is no big secret – but if he can throw the slider for strikes, we have truly a quality reliever on our hands.
Pedro Beato – Rule 5 Pick from the Baltimore Orioles has the stuff to stick around in the majors. He is a rookie, turning 25 in October, but still showed really good control and good stuff overall in the beginning of the season. He started the season with a 17 IP scoreless streak, drawing comparisons to Joakim Soria from me. He hasn’t looked the same after coming back from the DL but he still has a promising future. Beato runs with a two-seam variant, four-seam, curveball, and slider. None of his pitches are MLB Plus pitches (like Parnell’s fastball) but he works pretty well with what he’s got. He mixes speeds well (Two Seam around 91, 4 Seam around 93, Curve 79, Slider 86) and has looked like he’s going to stick with the Mets the rest of the way – so he’ll be under our control for a little bit. If Beato keeps his control steady (12 BB in 40 IP) and keeps the K/BB steady (2:1), he’ll be good a long the way. A WHIP of 1.00 and an AVG against of .197? Nice. He’s also only allowed 2 HRs this year, so that’s good to see as well.
Here’s the skinny in my opinion: from what I’ve seen and from what the stats show me. Bobby Parnell’s ceiling is more of a Brian Wilson type closer and Pedro Beato is more of a Joakim Soria type closer –> if they both hit their ceilings. If either one of them is able to reach such a ceiling, I would be a very happy fan. The likelihood is that the true endpoint for the two of them lies between the high projections I set and where they are now. It is more likely Parnell will pan out to be a better reliever but Beato is probably more likely to hit the Soria type ceiling. I assume Parnell will get the chances to close from here on out and I’ll be observing him closely.