The New York Mets gift-wrapped a game last night to Atlanta. However, there’s nothing to like after hearing Bobby Parnell, who did more dancing than pitching after blowing his fifth save opportunity.
The Mets don’t want to deal Parnell because they believe he’s their closer of the future. His 18 saves is a good indicator, but he’s not immune from some head scratching and wonder.
Yes, Parnell was victimized by a hit against the shift, a bloop and a passed ball, but the bottom line is the closer must overcome and pitch out of trouble, whether it is somebody else’s or his.
Mariano Rivera didn’t become the greatest closer in history by whining about bad luck as Parnell did.
“I didn’t feel like I gave up any hard-hit balls,’’ Parnell told reporters last night. “They just, unfortunately, got through. I wouldn’t have done anything different, I don’t think.
“I didn’t walk anybody. I didn’t give up free bases. I attacked the zone. Unfortunately it just wasn’t my day.’’
Really? You wouldn’t have done anything differently? You were happy with the placement of the pitch John Buck couldn’t handle? You were happy with the grooved pitch to Reed Johnson that produced the go-ahead run? Seriously, you attacked the zone?
Let’s first look at the passed ball. Parnell said he thought he saw a fastball sign, but Buck called for a curveball. It’s the ninth inning, so you must be sure. That’s not bad luck, that’s not taking care of business.
“We don’t know who was right and who was wrong,” Parnell said. “We’re not going to worry about it, and get them tomorrow.’’
It’s not that simple. It is the pitcher who decides what, when and where’s he’s going to throw a pitch. If the pitcher doesn’t like what is called, or is uncertain, then he doesn’t throw the pitch. It is that simple. What Parnell did was surrender control of the situation.
There are times saying “get them tomorrow,’’ doesn’t cut it and last night was one of them. While it remains possible there was legitimate miscommunication, it is Parnell’s job to get the next hitters out, which he did not.
Somehow, Parnell must find a way to get the outs he needed, as Dillon Gee did in a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the seventh.
Parnell has made significant improvement, but remains a project. His .097 WHIP is a career best, as is his 2.0 walks per nine innings average. His 6.8 hits per nine innings are his best since 2008.
However, his 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings is his lowest since 2009, which leads to the suggestion when Parnell needs a strikeout, as he did last night, he’s unable to get it despite still throwing in the mid-to-high 90s.
Unlike Rivera, whose cutter might be baseball’s most devastating pitch, Parnell’s money pitch is still the fastball, which is reliant on movement, location and velocity – in that order – to be effective.
Parnell’s wasn’t working, which made throwing the knuckle-curve difficult.
It is about execution. Luck is irrelevant. Great closers understand the difference.
As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos