It’s no secret that the Mets bullpen has been their tiny, uncovered, exhaust port (because that worked so well for the Death Star) in what has been an almost logic defying season. As we near the trading deadline Sandy Alderson has another important decision to make as GM – what to do about a closer going forward.
For years it was presumed that Bobby Parnell, the young kid with the big arm, would eventually fill the role after the Mets drafted him in the 9th round of the 2005 amateur draft. He made his debut in 2008 pitching in 6 games. After a year to get adjusted to being in the big leagues in 2009, a 25 year old Parnell posted a 2.83 ERA in 35 innings in 2010, giving Mets fans hope he would eventually replace K-Rod.
Unfortunately, things haven’t developed the way that fans have hoped for. This season Parnell has cut down on his walks per 9 (4.1 to 1.9) from last year, while increasing his strikeout to walk ratio to 4.88, but those numbers still aren’t good enough. Not to mention the eye test, where we see that Parnell is generally shaky in the 9th inning of a close game, hearkening back to the Mets wealth of shaky closers or past.
Comparatively, from 2006 to 2009 Mariano Rivera’s walks per 9 was never above 1.7 and only in 2010 was his K/BB less than 5. Okay, he’s Mariano Rivera so it’s an unfair comparison. But how about compared to these numbers, a walk per 9 ratio of 1.4 and a K/BB of 6.11. Again, Parnell’s numbers don’t stand up, this time to Houston Street’s 2011 season.
Now it becomes Sandy Alderson’s task, to determine how to sure up the bullpen not only for this unlikely playoff push but also for years to come, since it should now be fairly obvious that there is no “closer of the future” currently residing in the ‘pen.