Welcome to part four of our Rising Apple Roundtable Discussion, as each of the staff writers choose which relief pitcher will be the most valuable part of the Mets’ bullpen in 2013. The 2012 version wasn’t all that impressive, but Sandy Alderson has done a good job at bringing in some veteran arms on low-risk deals to mix with the young hurlers New York already has under team control.
Matt Musico, Senior Editor: Brandon Lyon
While I think Alderson made plenty of great signings for the bullpen (LaTroy Hawkins, Greg Burke, Scott Atchison, to name a few), bringing on Brandon Lyon was the best move of all. In splitting his 2012 season with the Astros and Blue Jays, he put together a solid year with a 4-2 record, 3.10 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 63 strikeouts in 61 IP. Having him to solidify and give depth to the back-end of the bullpen has made it easier for Terry Collins to feel comfortable moving Bobby Parnell to closer since Frank Francisco‘s status for Opening Day is uncertain. Most of the time, when a team’s closer gets shut down in the first week of Spring Training, there would be some panic, but there hasn’t been because of Lyon’s presence. If Francisco is hurt, Lyon is able to be the set-up man for Parnell in the ninth, and if Frank Frank is healthy, the three of them can shorten a game by three innings, taking the pressure off the starting staff. With 79 career saves, he can also step in and shut the door occasionally if needed. So, the flexibility his presence creates for Collins and his versatility to pitch effectively in multiple roles makes him my most valuable reliever for 2013.
Michael Lecolant, Senior Staff Writer: Bobby Parnell
Brandon Lyon was passed over by Terry Collins in favor of Bobby Parnell to close games should Frank Francisco not be available by Opening Day. I second the move. Pitching primarily as the set-up man, Parnell enjoyed his best season as a pro last year. And if there is an overwhelming sentiment attached to Bobby Parnell, it is that most Mets fans believe he is still getting better. His experience with closing games, and being able to step in on short notice, now makes him immediately very valuable to the Mets this season. It stands to reason Bobby Parnell will be impacting the Mets in multiple roles then. I also like his experience factor. With four full seasons under his belt, he is more learned in the craft of pitching now, as opposed to relying on pure heat. And being twenty-eight years old, he is said to be entering his prime. With no health concerns last year, he seems poised to have an exceptional season. Most teams can not have their closer go down, and still be able to hand the ball off to a secondary option as good as Bobby Parnell. To me, that is value.
Danny Abriano, Staff Writer: Josh Edgin
While I think Bobby Parnell will continue to come into his own as he takes over the role of closer, and I believe Greg Burke is a candidate to be a huge contributor, my pick for most valuable reliever is lefty Josh Edgin.
At the moment, the 26 year old Edgin appears to be the only left handed lock for the 2013 bullpen. He’ll probably be joined by either Pedro Feliciano, Scott Rice, or Robert Carson, but it’s Edgin who will most likely have the biggest responsibility. Although his 4.56 ERA in 2012 isn’t much to look at, Edgin’s peripherals jump out. Last year was his first taste of the major leagues. In his 25.2 innings, Edgin gave up 19 hits, struck out 30 (an average of 10.5 K’s per 9), and had a WHIP of 1.13.
I’m expecting big things from Edgin this season as he continues to mature. If he builds on 2012, he’ll continue to instill even more confidence in manager Terry Collins, which will lead to an even bigger reliance on him. Look for Edgin to run with this opportunity.
Dan Haefeli, Staff Writer: Bobby Parnell
Though he hasn’t always been dominant, Bobby Parnell has been one of the Mets’ best relief pitchers for the past several years. Excluding the eight starts he made in late 2009, Parnell has posted a 3.09 ERA with a 2.5 K/BB that has been steadily improving. In 2012, which many consider a breakout season for Parnell, he pitched a career high 68 innings (in relief) with a career low 2.49 ERA and a career low 1.238 WHIP. The commonly cited reason for his improvement is the knuckle curveball, taught to him by Jason Isringhausen in late 2011. The knuckle curve, which offers better break and a bigger change in speed than his slider, has given Bobby a legitimate off-speed pitch that strengthens his heater. Look for 2013 to be the season where Bobby Parnell finally takes the reins on the closer position and continues his progression into one of baseball’s top relievers.
Rich Sparago, Staff Writer: Josh Edgin
Last year, Edgin appeared in 34 games for the Mets, and posted an impressive 1.13 WHIP. Edgin also had a 3:1 K/BB ratio, having struck out 30 and walked 10. The hard-throwing lefty gave us a glimpse of how he will give left-handed hitters fits in 2013 and beyond. Edgin also had some struggles last year, most notably surrendering a ninth-inning blast to Ryan Howard that cost the Mets a September game. If Edgin can learn from mistakes such as that one, he should progress nicely in 2013 and give the Mets the all-important lefty out of the bullpen. While Edgin may not save many games next season, his role will be to come in and get key outs in the 7th and 8th innings. It will be fun to watch Josh take on Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jason Heyward, and Freddie Freeman with the game on the line. As Whitey Herzog used to say, the “out of the game” doesn’t always come in the ninth inning. I think we’ll see Edgin record many of those important late-inning outs in 2013.
Kevin Baez, Staff Writer: Bobby Parnell
Having the best season of his career in 2012, Parnell has shown the ability at times to over power hitters. The problem with Parnell is that he is only seen as a dominant reliever when pitching mostly in the eighth-inning role. When closing games, it’s a totally different story. While it has already been said by manager Terry Collins that Parnell will serve as the Mets closer with Frank Francisco hurt, it remains to be seen whether slotting Parnell into the closer’s role will be best for New York. I don’t question whether Parnell has the stuff to close out games, but I’m not sure he has the closer’s mentality to be successful. However, given the development in Parnell evolving from a thrower to a pitcher, I do believe he will eventually put everything together and serve as the team’s closer for years to come. With Frank Francisco and Brandon Lyon only signed through this season, it’s a big year for Parnell to prove to the Mets he can reach his full potential as a closer. If Parnell falters again in this role, he will most likely serve as a set-up man, another important role in which he has shown the ability to succeed in.
Will DeBoer, Staff Writer: Josh Edgin
Two pitchers from New York’s 2010 draft class made it to the Big Show in 2012. Matt Harvey got all the publicity, but Josh Edgin quietly made his presence known in an otherwise unpromising Mets relief staff. A couple bad outings at the end of the season shot up his ERA to 4.56, which overshadows the key role he played from June on. Once Tim Byrdak went down for the season, Edgin was at times the only lefty coming out of the Mets’ beleaguered bullpen; to hold his own in that role as a rookie was impressive. Edgin turned 26 in December, so he’s still maturing as a pitcher and will have a couple years until he reaches his ceiling. With Byrdak out until at least the summer, Josh and Robert Carson will be New York’s primary southpaw set-up men, and Edgin will be the more successful of the two.
It was a tough choice between Edgin and Bobby Parnell for most valuable reliever, but I chose Edgin because he won’t be expected to do more than middle relief this season. When Frank Francisco was sidelined at the beginning of Spring Training, Parnell was named de facto closer, and as much as I like Parnell, and as good as he was in middle relief last season, I don’t think he has the nerves to close; he got chances in 2011 and 2012 and failed both times. 2013 will be his last shot in that particular role, but unless he injected his veins with ice water during the offseason, he won’t be as effective as even Francisco was in that role.
For those two reasons (plus-Edgin and minus-Parnell), Josh Edgin will be the most valuable reliever for the Mets in 2013.
Sam Maxwell, Staff Writer: Bobby Parnell
This is one of the toughest categories to predict. But I think I feel it’s safe to say that Bobby Parnell will be the most valuable arm out there.
Bobby Parnell is a really nice guy. Even before Julian and I met him, the second he was around I felt bad for ever giving him crap. That may have been the human element appearing once myself and these guys were peers in a room together, but I digress. I have always wanted Bobby Parnell to get mean on the mound. This might not be so easy for him, though I do not know him personally. Even with all his flaws last year, Bobby Parnell was still the most consistent member of the ‘pen. Even if he never gets “mean” out there, I think a more learned Bobby Parnell is just what we, the Mets, and Bobby Parnell need. If he truly continues his development, I don’t see why Bobby Parnell can’t be the most valuable member of the Metropolitan bullpen.
So, you’ve seen what we think about the bullpen in 2013…who do you think will be the most valuable reliever for the Mets in 2013? Let us know in the comments section.
On Tuesday, the Rising Apple Roundtable Discussion continues as we each pick which player is most likely to disappoint in Flushing this season.