It was a weekend to forget for most on the Mets and Bobby Parnell is among those who would like to erase the games from both his memory and his stat line. Parnell pitched in the last two games of the series and gave up runs in both outings. His line for the two games: 1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR and a blown save.
The last two games were just a continuation of a recent stretch of poor pitching for Parnell. After starting off the year in dominating fashion, Parnell has hit tough times in his last 12 games. In that span he has a 7.27 ERA and a 1.962 WHIP. Parnell is 0-1 with 3 BS in those 12 games and the team is 5-7. Fortunately for him, Jon Rauch has been even worse which has deflected some negative attention from coming his way.
Parnell is doing what he always does – piling up strikeouts and hits allowed. In this recent stretch he has 9 Ks and 12 H in 8.2 IP. It’s not much different from his hot stretch to start the season, where in 18 IP he had 18 Ks and 20 H. The difference is that Parnell is giving up BB and HR now, too. In his hot stretch, he allowed just 3 BB and 1 HR in 18 IP. But in his last 8.2 IP, he’s surrendered 5 BB and 2 HR.
In his three previous seasons, Parnell has been consistently below average with his HR rate. Starting in 2009, he’s had HR/FB marks of: 7.6, 5.3 and 7.5 percent. After allowing a homer on Sunday, his rate in 2012 checks in at an above-average 13.0 percent. A normalized HR rate gives him an xFIP of 3.16 compared to a 3.71 actual ERA. Then remember that he’s been below average in the category previously and there’s hope that he will soon recover from this rough stretch.
The walks are more of a concern for Parnell going forward. Because he gives up so many hits, Parnell really needs to limit his free passes. In two of the past three years, Parnell’s BB/9 rate has been over 4.0 and the one year it wasn’t – 2010 (2.06 BB/9) – was his best year in the majors, as he posted a 2.83 ERA and a 2.54 xFIP that season.
In his first 20 IP, Parnell had a 1.5 BB/9 and a 2.00 ERA. In his last 8.2 IP, he has a 5.2 BB/9 and a 7.27 ERA.
The overall result in 2012 is a pitcher very similar to the one we saw in 2011, when his performance was one of the main reasons that Sandy Alderson spent most of his money on the bullpen in the offseason. Last year Parnell had a 3.64 ERA and a 1.466 WHIP and this year he has a 3.71 ERA and a 1.500 WHIP.
The Mets could live with this performance if Rauch wasn’t a stiff, Ramon Ramirez wasn’t having his worst year since 2007 and if Tim Byrdak could be effective in stints where he faced more than one batter. The simple truth is that the Mets need Parnell to be the guy he was early in the year so they can have an effective bridge to the ninth inning.
While the 2012 Mets need that from Parnell, it’s far from a sure thing that he can provide that for the team. And that is why the Mets find themselves in the unfortunate position of moving Jenrry Mejia to the bullpen. Despite having a 1.13 ERA in three starts at Triple-A since his promotion, the Mets need Mejia in the bullpen, hopefully as a power arm in the 7th and 8th innings.
Perhaps Mejia can succeed where Acosta, Carrasco, Parnell, Ramirez (both Elvin and Ramon) and Rauch have failed. In the interim, let’s get Pedro Beato in Flushing sooner rather than later.