Mets Season In Review: Bobby Parnell

By Michael Lecolant

Today’s Season In Review series features Mets closer Bobby Parnell.  Most Mets fans have always held out hope he would grab the closers job and run with it.  His first real chance came in 2011 when the Mets shipped out troubled closer Francisco Rodriguez.  But Parnell’s bid was less than successful.  He was then afforded another opportunity in 2012 when Frank Francisco was felled by injury.  In his second audition, Parnell showed enough improvement in the role that he was named the early off-season favorite to close games the following year.  With Frank Francisco still recovering from elbow surgery heading into the 2013 season, Terry Collins officially named Bobby Parnell the team’s closer.  After being given the opportunity, Parnell finally nailed it and claimed the position as his own.

How He Did On The Mound:

Parnell appeared in 49 games last season and finished 41.  Before his regular season ended prematurely, Parnell pitched 50 innings and posted a 5-5 record, with a career best 2.16 ERA.  He allowed just 38 hits and walked 12 for an even 1.00 WHIP.  He faced 198 total batters, struck out 44, and only surrendered one home run.  Parnell saved 22 games, by far his career high, while only blowing four opportunities (three of which weren’t his fault).

Jul 23, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Bobby Parnell (39) pitches in the ninth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

In the month of May, Parnell posted a 3-1 record and saved seven games.  He surrendered three runs during his only loss, otherwise did not allow a run all month.  On June 9th, his ERA topped out at a 3.04 mark.  July marked the final month of his season, during which he pitched 15.1 stellar innings, allowing 12 hits and just one run for a 0.60 ERA.  He struck out 14 and walked four, saved eight games, and only blew one chance.  By the end of the month, Bobby Parnell’s season ERA was down to 2.16.

Starting on July 30th in a game against the Miami Marlins, Parnell began feeling  discomfort in his neck which did not subside after a few days off.  On August 6th, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 30th due to a herniated disk in his neck.  Three days after his 29th birthday, on September 11th, Parnell was reported to have underwent successful surgery to repair the herniated disk.

On September 14th, the Mets moved him from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list.

Areas To Improve Upon:

With regards to learning his craft, Bobby Parnell has been a sponge.  With regards to performance, he’s been the epitome of self-improvement.  He has learned how to tone down a 100 MPH fastball for the sake of gaining better control.  He additionally embraced Jason Isringhausen‘s tutelage with regards to harnessing his knuckle-curve.  As a result, Bobby Parnell, although cut short, enjoyed his finest season as a pro in 2013.

The most glaring, and sudden area Parnell needs to improve upon, is his health.  Manager Terry Collins was terribly concerned about his closer when he claimed that Parnell was a pencil thin thirty pounds lighter after surgery.  The good news, is that doctors have made strong assurances that Parnell will be able to return healthy and in time for Spring Training.

Projected Role In 2014:

In Parnell’s absence LaTroy Hawkins filled in admirably last season.  Hawkins wants to continue pitching, and the club would be well served to retain him.  Newcomer Vic Black is a welcome addition to the mix.  However, there is no longer a dispute.  Assuming Parnell recovers well, he will be the team’s closer next season.

Contract Status and Trade Rumors:

Parnell remains under team control.  Last season was his first season of arbitration eligibility, but he and the club settled on a $1.7 million dollar salary.  A fine 2013 season, and expectations of a full recovery should earn Parnell a respectable raise heading into next season.  He is arbitration eligible again, and will not become a free agent until the 2016 season.

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