In his first chance at closing a game in the absence of Frank Francisco, Bobby Parnell threw a flawless ninth inning and slammed the door shut, preserving the Mets 3-2 win over the Dodgers on Thursday night and recording his first save of the season.
So the age-old question arises once again. Is Parnell ready for closing duties this time around?
Stop me if you have heard this one before, but Parnell looks like a different pitcher this year. He seems to be trading in speed for better location with his fastball this year while also having trust in all of his pitches. As many have pointed out about him in the past, Parnell usually “throws” more than he “pitches”, but this year he is trying to reverse that sentiment.
So far this year Parnell is 1-1 with a 3.11 ERA. Parnell’s 1.28 WHIP leaves a little to be desired but in 32 innings pitched, Parnell has amassed 31 strikeouts, while issuing only eight walks. While Parnell does allow too many hits, he is not getting burned by the free passes this year. Last year, Parnell’s WHIP was 1.47 and for his career it is a shoddy 1.50, so the 1.28 mark he has this year is sterling in contrast.
For years, the only hurdle for Parnell to get past was the mental aspect of the game. It has been discussed ad nauseam, that once Parnell clears this obstacle of having a closer’s “mentality” then his game will take flight.
Parnell looks to be pitching with a lot more confidence this year and if wasn’t for him this year, then this already dreadful bullpen would be even lousier than they already are. And that is a hard concept to wrap your head around.
With Francisco on the DL, Parnell is about the only trusted arm in the Mets’ bullpen nowadays. With Tim Byrdak being just a lefty specialist (and he’s done a great job of being just that), Parnell has had to carry the load in the middle innings. Ramon Ramirez and Jon Rauch have been busts this season, while guys like Manny Acosta and D.J. Carrasco have been abominations this year.
With Francisco sidelined, and with oblique injuries being tricky to overcome, Parnell may get an extended look at closer as we approach the break. It may be now or never for Parnell to capitalize on his immense potential.
From the first looks of things, Parnell is ready for this latest opportunity. Here’s hoping that Parnell can pounce on this chance and help fortify a flailing bullpen.
If Parnell doesn’t succeed here now, then when will he?
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