Bobby Parnell had neck surgery last September to repair a herniated disk, and has advanced through the recovery process without any real hiccups. However, his lack of velocity is still a concern.
During spring training, Parnell sat in the high 80s with his fastball, and reached as high as 94 mph on the radar gun – but there wasn’t one appearance where his velocity was consistently where it’s been in the past.
Since introducing a knuckle-curve into his arsenal a few seasons ago and dialing back his fastball in order locate better, Parnell doesn’t normally hit 100 mph anymore. Still, his average fastball velocity in 2013 was 95 mph – something that hasn’t come easily since his surgery.
During yesterday’s blown save against Washington, Parnell topped out at 94 mph, but the majority of the fastballs he threw were 90 and 91 mph.
Some high leverage relievers are able to get by throwing in the low 90s, but Parnell may not be someone who’s able to adequately work at a much lower average velocity than he’s used to.
While Parnell’s knuckle-curve is a legitimate weapon, he can’t live off the pitch. It’s his fastball that he makes his living with, and at 90 or 91 mph and not much movement, it’s a pitch that’s concerning.
Hopefully Parnell’s missing velocity is simply a matter of him not being completely back to form just yet. If the velocity returns, he should be just fine. Either way, this is something to keep a very close eye on.