Can the new Bobby Parnell still be effective?

Bobby ParnellThere was a time a few years ago when Bobby Parnell was half-lovingly nicknamed Captain Fastball.  He could bring the heat – reaching over 100 mph on the gun – but had problems with control and being hittable.  As the now well-known story goes, Jason Isringhausen taught him the knuckle-curve and from that point on, Parnell took off.

After Tommy John Surgery in 2014, he is now back in the majors, and is yet to allow a run in three innings, despite being battered around in his rehab assignments.  His velocity is also noticeably down.  According to Brooks Baseball data, His fastball sits at 94.1 mph, after it was at 96.1 in his last full-season in 2013.  Parnell has also lost two miles per hour off of the curve.

As Mike Fast at The Hardball Times uncovered in 2011, one mph on the fastball at higher velocities corresponds with approximately 0.20 runs allowed per nine innings. Parnell’s RA/9 in 2013 was 3.06, meaning that if the velocity dip holds (which it likely will, as velocity stabilizes very quickly) we can expect that number to jump to the ballpark of 3.46.

That difference might not seem like a large bump on the surface, but with the Mets’ lackluster offense the question of whether you want Parnell to be trusted to get outs in high leverage situations is an important one.

More in the past five years than ever before, pitchers have returned from Tommy John to have success, but there are still risks associated with the surgery.  He should still be able to continue to be an effective relief pitcher, but it’s hard to envision him regularly closing games in the future.

9 comments for “Can the new Bobby Parnell still be effective?

  1. June 19, 2015 at 9:49 am

    I’m not ready to give up on velocity returning for Parnell just yet. Unlike Harvey, Parnell is returning on the short side of the recovery time for TJ surgery. It was nearly 20 months between MLB games for Harvey and it was nearly 15 months for Parnell.

    • Joe Vasile
      June 19, 2015 at 10:28 am

      15 months isn’t really that short anymore, a lot of guys are returning in 12 months or less from Tommy John. Harvey’s case was one where the layoff was longer than it probably needed to be. I’m a little less optimistic than you about it coming back, but I’d be pleasantly surprised if it does.

  2. Chris F
    June 19, 2015 at 10:47 am

    It’s my understanding the 12 month returns from TJ are being regarded by the industry as a mistake. Strings of GMs are realizing that 16+ months before returning to mlb competition is preferable. Most people seem to think its 24 months to the full recovery.

    Parnell had no need to be rushed. The numbers belie the fact he was only effective with soft stuff, with fastballs having little command and control. Part of the success he had was coming in as a wiley veteran with little book on him. I can’t help but wonder if he’s gonna be most effective as a Niese like nibbler.

  3. Metsense
    June 19, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    I think Parnell will be effective but I also have a gut feeling that he will never be a top ten ten closer like he was in the first half of 2013. The velocity dip, the Hardball Times research, and the fact he has not pitched since August 2013 supports my feelings. Parnell is coming back at an opportune time with Black, Mejia and Goeddel missing from the major league roster. I hope he can be effective for a month so that he can be traded. Parnell is a free agent next year and there is no need to sign him to an extension. There are many young arms in the Met minor league system that are going to be blocked as starters and will become hard throwing relievers instead. In a month, Black, Mejia and Goeddel will be back and that is when he should trade Parnell to a contender for prospects. This is Sandy’s strength. Parnell can be replaced. He should trade him and get something for him to ensure that the farm system can keep feeding the major league team in the future. These trades have been a successful formula that has gotten the Mets to first place.Why deviate from it now?

    • Chris F
      June 19, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      Metsense, do you really think Parnell is going to get enough high leverage work load this season so that he has genuine tradeable value? I guess if Im a contender (hey, arent the Mets a contender?) why would I be looking to sign an unknown quantity in Parnell at a position where inconsistency, even in healthy pitchers, is the rule? At this point he’s rehabbing in the big leagues with a drop in velo and little control. Once more batters see him and what the new look BP has, I cant help but wonder whether he can get away with soft stuff on the paint. Like you said he’s a free agent. I imagine SA keeps im around just to chew up innings as the brutality of the season goes on. Hell, I imagine he might even get a ridiculously small offer from the Mets to stay around for a couple years (say 2yr @ 2M$ per) just to have another arm (his agent is ACES, so at least very familiar with the Mets and done a lot of business with them). However there are youngin’s on the way with very little expense, so I doubt he’s a Met any time soon.

      • Daniel Ross
        June 19, 2015 at 6:55 pm

        You can get people out with 94 mph fastball and a knuckle-curve. Velocity is not the end all be all.

  4. Patrick Albanesius
    June 19, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    If Parnell sticks around and ends up being our 6th or 7th inning guy, can we really complain about that? I think he’ll stick around and continue to have good, maybe not great success.

    • James Preller
      June 19, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      That’s about what I expect, too. I don’t think you need 95 MPH to get guys out — but it helps.

  5. June 19, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    I suspect Parnell will gain velocity, over time. Whether he regains 100mph levels on a regular basis, I think, is less important that whether he gains command of the pitches and becomes something more than just a “thrower”. Per the earlier comments- If Parnell can be the guy the Mets slot as their go-to 7th inning guy- Man, I’ll take it. I don’t think we’re anywhere close to understanding whether he’s *that guy* yet

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