At the end of the Omar Minaya tenure, it seemed the team bent over backwards to minimize any injury. Seemingly every injury followed the same path. It would go from “it’s minor,” to “day-to-day,” to “15-day DL,” to “indefinitely out,” to “done for the year.” The running joke was that if the team announced a player had a blister, it was only a matter of time until he needed rotator cuff surgery.
While the problem has been greatly reduced, it hasn’t been completely eliminated, either. Nowhere was this truer in 2013 than with Bobby Parnell and his neck injury. We went from “he slept on his pillow wrong,” to “needs surgery and is out for the season.” Even now in late February, we still don’t know when he’ll be ready to pitch in an MLB game.
Parnell says he’s a couple of weeks behind where he normally is. That sounds like something that could be made up in Spring Training, but then he has to back off from his schedule right at the beginning of camp. A season-opening DL stint seems more likely by the day.
The Mets spent some time this year talking about bringing in a veteran for the bullpen and ended up bringing in two guys with closing experience on NRIs. In one way, it’s not much different from previous years under Sandy Alderson where the Mets brought in guys to compete for bullpen spots. But while LaTroy Hawkins was brought in with little fanfare last year, this time around the chase of veteran bullpen additions sounded like a daily story.
What gets lost in the shuffle was that Parnell was great last year when he moved into the closer’s role. His Saves totals are unimpressive because fate conspired against him in the beginning of the year and the neck injury took away the end of his campaign. But in the middle he was everything the Mets could have hoped for from their fireman.
So, what will Parnell do in 2014? Here’s what we think:
As you might expect, our forecasts are all over the map. His innings totals hit every 10-IP range from the 30s to the 70s while our expectations for Saves run from zero to 38. All of us except for one think he’ll pitch great when he does get on the mound, with Patrick Albanesisus expecting his ERA to skate beneath the 2.00 mark. Perhaps the most interesting forecasts come from Charlie Hangley and Chris Waldenin, who both expect Parnell to significantly outperform his FIP.
Here’s what the group as a whole projects for Parnell in 2014:
There’s nothing too surprising in our forecast. A closer would normally have an IP total somewhere around 70 and ours is comfortably beneath that, building in lost time for a DL stint. We think he’ll be quite effective when he gets on the mound and rack up saves at a slightly higher rate than last year, which makes sense given that he struggled for save opportunities in the beginning of 2013 plus the hope that the Mets have a better team this season.
Now let’s see how our numbers compare to the projections available on FanGraphs for Parnell:
Neither Oliver nor ZiPS have Saves projections.
The four forecasts are very close to one another with one exception: We expect him to outperform his peripherals. In fact Parnell has done that very thing, posting a lower ERA than FIP the past two seasons. In 2012 he was half a run below his FIP and last year his ERA was 17 points lower. If we could tweak our official forecast, we would likely add a quarter of a run to his ERA but that would be cheating. Besides, if he outperforms his peripherals to any degree, we can still call it a win.
Check back Thursday for our next entry in the projection series.