New York Mets News

On Bobby Parnell’s injury & the opening day bullpen aberration

By Danny Abriano

The loss the Mets suffered on Opening Day was a difficult and ugly one, with an exclamation point put on it by the at times dreadful performance by the bullpen.

Mar 31, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Scott Rice (56) pitches against the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning of an opening day baseball game at Citi Field. Washington Nationals won 9-7. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

In the age of social media and immediate reaction, one game out of 162 is treated by some as the be-all end-all, and/or a sign of things to come. In reality, it’s just one game – given more attention than it should because it’s the first game.

On Tuesday, the prior day’s bullpen meltdown was at the same time put into context and exacerbated with the news that closer Bobby Parnell had a torn UCL in his pitching elbow.

With Parnell’s status for the rest of the season in doubt, the way the Mets’ bullpen performed on Opening Day becomes that much more glaring. Without their reliable closer – at least for the foreseeable future – the rest of the arms will have to step up. Will they?

While the performance by the majority of the relievers on Opening Day was poor, the odds are that it was an aberration.

First, the good:

Both Jose Valverde and Jeurys Familia pitched well.

Valverde escaped a bases loaded jam that he inherited, and Familia (despite his final line) allowed zero hard hit balls and walked no one.

Now, the bad:

Carlos Torres and Scott Rice each faced one batter, and each failed to throw a strike, combining to force in the tying run.

Unless you think that both Torres and Rice have forgotten how to throw strikes, their Opening Day performance can only be looked at as an odd occurrence that isn’t likely to be repeated.

Finally, the ugly:

John Lannan was summoned from the pen in the top of the 10th inning and served up a three-run homer that put the game out of reach.

Prior to 2014, Lannan had never pitched in relief before in his career. The odds are that he’ll either find a groove in the pen or be removed from the role quickly. This shouldn’t be a situation where he’s allowed to get lit up without ramifications.

As is noted above, the blown save suffered by Parnell came while he was pitching with a tear in his UCL. It’s still a blown save, but a healthy Parnell likely nails that save down, in turn changing what the conversation has been over the last few days.

Calling the Mets bullpen a strength at this point would be a bit delusional, but so would expecting that they’ll be almost unbelievably ineffective from game to game.

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