It had been nearly two years since Bobby Parnell picked up a save in a major league game, but when the Mets’ former closer got the chance to shut the door on Tuesday night against the Blue Jays, Parnell seized the moment.
With the bases loaded and the Mets clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth inning, Parnell was summoned from the bullpen. It would be just his third appearance in the majors since 2014, and by far the most difficult situation he faced in that span. But Parnell met the challenge and recorded the final five outs as the Mets tallied another win in what has been a positive season, but one replete with players fighting or recovering from injuries, Parnell included.
Bobby Parnell had missed all of August and September of 2013 with a herniated disk in his neck, then in the opening game of the season in 2014 Parnell had to leave early. He was later diagnosed with a torn UCL that required Tommy John surgery. Parnell missed a whole year and his rehab went along slowly, with Parnell not making a rehab start until May of this year (the original timetable called for Parnell to rejoin the Mets in late April).
Things didn’t go smoothly for Parnell in the minors; between high-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton, Parnell went 0-4 with an 11.57 ERA in 14 innings of work. But with the Mets being shorthanded in the pen after Erik Goeddel was placed on the DL with an elbow strain, the Mets decided to see if Parnell was ready to face major league hitting again.
Parnell’s first appearance of 2015 came on Saturday, June 13 against the Braves, and Parnell threw just four pitches, surrendering one hit and recording one out. The next day Parnell got one full inning of work but threw just nine pitches; he walked one man but that batter would be a casualty of an inning-ending double play that Parnell induced.
Parnell allowed just one hit in his 1.2 innings of relief work on Tuesday; he walked none and struck out two on 25 pitches.
But with Jeurys Familia pitching like he has all season and Jenrry Mejia returning in about three weeks, Parnell won’t be nearly as vital to the Mets as he once was. But the lack of pressure could help him get back to his old self and should something go awry with another reliever Parnell could be poised to step right in.
It’s worth noting that Bobby Parnell’s velocity is way down from the high-90’s he was hurling in his prime (his fastball sat at about 92 in his rehab starts and with the major league club). It remains to be seen if Parnell can recapture the velocity he had a few years ago, or if he will just try to get by and adjust his game.