Bobby Parnell to the Rotation?
One of the reasons Bobby Parnell pitched three innings of relief today was to stretch him out for a possible move to the starting rotation — according to Jerry Manuel’s postgame comments.
After Jonathan Niese went down with an ankle injury, Nelson Figueroa pitched well in 4+ innings of relief, but the Mets don’t necessarily trust Figgy to take over a regular rotation spot. Further, it’s time to start looking toward next year, and wonder where Parnell fits in to the near future.
Though he was used extensively as a reliever at Charleston Southern University, Parnell was exclusively a starter once turning pro — until spring training this year. He’s had his ups and downs coming out of the bullpen with the Mets, occasionally looking like a lights-out setup man, sometimes looking like a BP pitcher. Throwing only one or two innings, he’s shown he can touch triple digits on the radar gun, but his slider has been inconsistent.
As a starter, however, I doubt he’s going to maintain that kind of velocity for 5-7 innings or more. That would be OK if he had solid secondary stuff, but again, his slider is inconsistent. What we’re going to see is a rerun of Mike Pelfrey’s first 2 1/2 years — good sinking fastball, no reliable secondary pitch, no change of speed. Hopefully, the Mets will help Parnell develop a changeup or overhand curve to give him a better shot of becoming a solid starter sooner, rather than going the route they took with Pelf (concentrating on developing the slider). One thing to note: as a minor league starter, Parnell gave up plenty of hits — 25 in 20 IP in AAA and 126 in 127 at AA last year, and 154 in 144 at two levels in 2007.
The timing for this transition couldn’t be better. The Mets are more or less out of the race, and they have both J.J. Putz and Billy Wagner arriving to take places in the bullpen shortly. I’d have to think they’ll also consider force-feeding Bradley Holt, who is similar to Parnell in that he has a fastball and not much else.
One must wonder — if Aaron Heilman was still a Met, would he finally be getting his chance to start? I’m betting no.