Now that the New York Mets have lost another important bullpen arm in Bobby Parnell, the Mets will now have to live on the edge and rely on veteran closer Jose Valverde to lock down games for the foreseeable future.
If it hasn’t been rocky before in the Mets’ bullpen before, well, buckle up because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Valverde has been known to give managers, and fans alike, heartburn.
As you probably know, the Mets placed Parnell on the disabled list with an incomplete tear of the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) in his right elbow. As of right now, the Mets are not ruling Parnell out for the year, but the hopes are slim that Parnell can come back and pitch the way he did last season. The plan is to have him reevaluated in six weeks, have him throw and then make a determination. His tear is in a “somewhat different location” than Matt Harvey according to General Manager Sandy Alderson.
With Parnell going on the DL, the Mets brought up reclamation project Kyle Farnsworth to take his spot in the bullpen. But make no mistake, the role of closer will be Valverde’s job.
Who else would it be any way?
Thus far the Mets bullpen has been awful. Yes, I know shocking news. In two games, one of which the relief corps was entirely at fault for the Mets losing on Opening Day, the bullpen has combined to pitch 6.1 innings while allowing seven earned runs on nine hits and four walks. That’s simply unacceptable.
However, if there has been one silver lining thus far, it has been the pitching of Valverde.
In his debut on Monday, Valverde pitched an inning and a third while allowing no hits, no walks and striking out three batters. Not only that, but Valverde cleaned up the mess; stranding the runners Carlos Torres and Scott Rice put on base on with consecutive walks in the 7th inning. Valverde would then get out of the jam with big strikeout of Ryan Zimmerman. He was then in line for the win after pitching a perfect 8th inning with Juan Lagares hitting a solo shot in the bottom of the inning to give the Mets a 5-4 lead.
You know the rest.
With Parnell out, it will have to be Valverde to carry the load for this underperforming unit. Sure, Valverde is probably not what he once was, but at this point, he be the best option the Mets have at this juncture.
That’s a scary notion.
What ultimately doomed Valverde last year was his propensity to serve up the long ball, as he allowed six dingers in 19 1/3 innings with the Tigers. If he can limit the long ball, Valverde can pass for a serviceable and competent closer.
Like a broken record, the Mets success or lack thereof going forward will be defined by their bullpen and until we get definitive word on what Parnell’s prognosis for recovery is, the Mets will sink or swim based on the success Valverde has.
It’s time for “Papa Grande,” as he affectionately is called, to come up, well, grand.