Prior to the 2009 season, Bobby Parnell knew that he was by no means guaranteed to make the Opening Day roster. Nevertheless, he worked hard and pitched very well in Spring Training, which earned him a spot on the 25-man roster.
Parnell embraced his spot in the bullpen rather nicely, and in the first two months of the season he compiled a very impressive 2.13 ERA, in addition to a respectable K:BB ratio of 19:9.
After getting roughed up a bit in the month of June, Parnell returned to form in July by pitching 10.1 scoreless innings.
What impressed me the most about Parnell was his velocity. At times, his fastball was clocked at 100 mph, and normally hovered somewhere within the 94 mph range.
Unfortunately for Parnell, he was thrust into somewhat uncharted territory mid-way through the season—just like many other teammates—when he was called upon to join the starting rotation.
To be fair, Parnell had spent his minor league career as a starter, but he never really showed that he was more than an average in the role. During his four years in the Mets farm system, his ERA generally hovered near five.
On Aug. 15, Parnell made his first start for the Mets, going up against the San Francisco Giants. His debut was stellar, as he pitched six scoreless innings while striking out seven batters.
In those three games alone, Parnell was clobbered for 22 earned runs in only 12.2 innings. In simpler terms, he gave up nearly two runs per inning.
Despite not having much success—aside from another shut-out performance—Parnell remained in the rotation until mid-September due to the team not having any other options.
Upon being sent back to the bullpen, he finished the year strong by hurling 6.1 innings and only allowing one run.
One of the main reasons behind Parnell’s lack of success last year was the fact that many of his secondary pitches were unpolished and he ended up relying too much on his fastball.
While a pitcher may be able to get away with throwing fastball after fastball for an inning or so, it just doesn’t work when they face the same batters two or three times in a game.
I know it’s been suggested before, but Parnell really needs to develop secondary pitches in order to become an effective starter. Surprisingly, when the Mets wanted to send him to winter ball to work on these pitches, the righty declined, citing fatigue.
Until he has better command of his “other stuff,” Parnell should remain in the bullpen where he has shown he can flourish.
Unless he is shipped out in a trade, Bobby Parnell should be in a New York Mets uniform next year, and rightfully so. Despite not having much success as a starter in 2009, he did prove to be a very effective reliever.
On top of that, Parnell made the league minimum of $400,000 last year, which is cheap when you consider that even with his struggles his performance was valued at $2 million.
Next year, I envision Parnell taking the spot that once belonged to J.J. Putz, which was setting up for Frankie Rodriguez. Depending on how well he performs, it wouldn’t surprise me if one day he took over the role as closer after Rodriguez departs.