Tale Of The Tape: Jason Isringhausen vs. Bobby Parnell

By Unknown author

Francisco Rodriguez has been traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, along with $5 million (the rest of his 2011 salary) for two players to be named later.  Long term, this is great news for the Mets, since they no longer have to worry about Frankie’s 2012 vesting option that would’ve cost the team $17.5 million.  In the short term, however, there is suddenly a void in the back end of the bullpen.  Filling that spot will either be Jason Isringhausen or Bobby Parnell.

Love him or hate him, K-Rod performed well in the closer role this season.  Despite allowing 44 hits in 42.2 innings, his ERA stands at 3.16 and he’s fanned 46 batters while converting 23 of 26 save opportunities.  While the Mets bullpen has been up and down over the course of the season, Rodriguez was by far the most consistent reliever.  With him gone, the Mets will now look to either Isringhausen or Parnell to record the final outs.  Below is how the two righties have measured up this season:

Izzy had a tremendous start to the season, posting a 1.80 ERA and allowing just seven hits through his first 15 innings of work, while managing to strikeout 13 batters.  Since then, however, he’s slowed down, owning a 4.61 ERA over his last 13.2 innings while allowing 14 hits and fanning just eight.  Furthermore, based on his FIP, which is significantly higher than his ERA, and his ridiculously low BABIP, it seems some of Isringhausen’s success was based on luck.

Meanwhile, Parnell has been nearly lights out since his return from the disabled list in late May.  Before landing on the shelf, Parnell had surrendered five earned runs on nine hits (two homers) and five walks in just seven and two-third innings (he still managed to strikeout eleven batters).  After coming off the DL, Parnell seems to have figured it out, allowing just three earned runs on 15 hits and four walks over 17.1 innings while punching out 19.  Also encouraging is his ground ball rate.

Of course, the sample size for this season is very small, and Isringhausen has a large body of work as a closer (293 career saves) while Parnell does not (one career save).  That being said, while Izzy has certainly been a pleasant surprise this year and may have developed into a crafty reliever of sorts, Parnell is having the better season and deserves the first shot at save opportunities.  It is comforting, though, to have Isringhausen available as both a safety net for and mentor to Parnell.

Is Bobby the long term closer of the future if he succeeds?  That’s still hard to say, but if he’s able to close out games successfully for the remainder of this season, that will go a long way towards answering that question.  For now though, everyone int he bullpen will have to step up in the wake of the K-Rod’s departure and be prepared to contribute in any situation.