Breaking Down The Mets Bullpen: Bobby Parnell

Prior to the 2009 season, Bobby Parnell knew that he was, by no means, guaranteed to make the Opening Day roster. Nonetheless, he worked hard and pitched very well in Spring Training, which him earned a spot on the 25-man roster.

His role with the team was supposed to be the seventh inning bridge to J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez, and foor the first half of the year his role on the team was just that.

Parnell embraced his spot in the bullpen rather nicely and in the first two months of the season he compiled a very impressive ERA of 2.13.

During this time period he also maintained a respectable K:BB ratio of 19:9.

After getting roughed up a bit in the month of June, Parnell returned to form in July by pitching 10.1 scoreless innings.

What impressed me the most about Parnell was his velocity. At times, his fastball was clocked at 100 mph, and normally hovered somewhere within the 94 mph range.

Unfortunately mid-way through the season, like many other teammates, Parnell was thrust into somewhat uncharted territory when he was called upon to join the starting rotation.

To be fair, Parnell had spent his minor league career as a starter, but he never really showed that he was more than an average starter, at best, during his four years in the Mets farm system, as his ERA generally hovered in the mid-to-high 4 range.

On August 15th, Parnell made his first start as a New York Met, going up against the San Francisco Giants. His debut was stellar as he pitched six scoreless innings, while striking out seven batters.

The success was short-lived and Parnell was rocked in the following three outings against division rivals, Atlanta and Philadelphia, as well as the Chicago Cubs.

In those three games alone, Parnell was clobbered for 22 earned runs in only 12.2 innings pitched. In simpler terms he gave up, on average, nearly two runs per inning.

Despite not having much success, aside from another shut-out performance, Parnell remained in the rotation until mid-September due to the team not having any other options.

Upon being moved from the rotation back to the bullpen, he finished the year strong by hurling 6.1 innings and only allowing one run.

One of the main reasons behind Parnell’s lack of success last year was the fact that many of his secondary pitches were unpolished and he ended up relying too much on his fastball.

While a pitcher may be able to get away with throwing fastball after fastball for one inning or so, it just doesn’t work when they face the same batters two or three times in a game.

I know it’s been said before, but Parnell really needs to develop secondary pitches in order to become an effective starter. Surprisingly, when the Mets wanted to send him to winter ball to work on these pitches, the righty declined, citing fatigue.

Until he has better command of his “other stuff”, Parnell should remain in the bullpen where he has shown he can flourish.

Final Verdict:

Unless he is shipped out in a trade, Bobby Parnell should be in a New York Mets uniform next year and rightfully so. Despite not having much success as a starter in 2009, he did prove to be a very effective reliever.

On top of that, Parnell made the league minimum of $400,000 last year, which is cheap when you consider that even with his struggles his performance was valued at two million dollars.

Next year, I envision Parnell taking the spot that once belonged to J.J. Putz, which was setting up for Frankie Rodriguez. Depending on how well he performs, it wouldn’t surprise me if one day he took over the role as closer after Rodriguez departs.