(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
Matt Harvey needed to bounce back Tuesday night on the mound at Citi Field for the New York Mets. He threw seven scoreless innings and allowed four hits against the potent Toronto Blue Jays lineup, Now it is on to Toronto for two more in this city-to- city interleague series, and the Mets for the moment have solved an issue for their late inning bullpen problem,
The solution and the answer is Bobby Parnell. What had to be addressed was how Parnell could handle his first pressure situation since his return from Tommy John Surgery. And for the moment, the Mets and manager Terry Collins are feeling more confident about the late innings after Parnell entered the eighth inning.
The win was significant for the Mets and Parnell preserved one for Harvey. More importantly, seeing Parnell enter with the bases loaded and one out, and tossing 1.2 scoreless innings, his first save since July 30, 2013 at Miami, was a step in the right direction,
And with closer Jeurys Familia not available, the eighth inning guy came out of the pen and that role may now belong to Bobby Parnell. Collins was relieved because the night before, and with the pen taxed, he said there had to be someone to help get through the eighth before getting the ball to the closer.
Again, Parnell would be the first to say he would never want to lose the closer role, but that belongs to Familia. The road back from surgery for Parnell was tedious. He worked hard the last year or more and his teammates saw the dedication as did the manager.
But Collins wanted to slowly work the right-hander back into the plan, and as much as Parnell was needed, one thing was not needed and that was going overboard with a plan. The Mets have been cautious with Harvey, also on the comeback after sitting out all last year from Tommy John.
Now with a game on the line, but not a season, Parnell was pressed back into action and Collins, along with the entire Mets clubhouse could not be happier. And it is not just how the Mets took two from the potent and hot Blue Jays, a team that won eleven straight before coming to Citi Field Monday night. It was the return of Bobby Parnell that may have been more important than the win.
“Matt Harvey’s back, and Bobby Parnell’s back,”Collins said. “And if those continue, this is gonna change the dynamics of what we get to face in the next three months. He made pitch after pitch, kept the ball out of the middle of the plate, worked the corners, used his two-seamer, hit 95 on the gun. It’s gonna come, we just gotta give him a little time. But he showed you tonight that he knows how to pitch.”
The velocity was not the same for Parnell, once at 97 or 100 and that is expected as the process always is. But the test, getting outs out of the pen are what the Mets needed, and Parnell delivered.
And Collins when asked said, “We’re just trying to win games. We think we have a nice team. We think that when we are healthy,we can compete with anybody and I think the first two games showed that we can.”
So where does this leave Parnell, more so when it comes to now being a key competent coming out of the pen? Collins can still use Carlos Torres, as he did in the eighth inning. But Torres left with the bases loaded and one out, and if it were not for another base running blunder by the Blue Jays, there could have been more damage instead of a 3-2 win.
The assumption was Torres would close the game, as Familia was not available. Torres said he never knows what the plan is, and that can be understood because up until Tuesday night Parnell , who had 22 saves in 2013, had stranded an inherited runner and pitched 1.0 shutout innings in the Mets’ comeback win over the Braves on Sunday.
“It felt good,” Parnell said. “Definitely had some adrenaline going. It was definitely a fun time to pitch.” The ninth inning, he said “is always good.” And Parnell said it has been a slow process, but a good one. The fact he is back in the pen, and offering a solution to the eighth inning, even if he prefers the ninth inning situations.
This also does not completely exclude the ninth inning role from Parnell, because if he is capable of doing so, and with Familia at times not available. having another experienced closer in the pen always works to the advantage for a team.
Collins knows that, so do the Mets who are aware they have that option now with a healthy Bobby Parnell. Harvey said baseball is an adjustment and having him back to form, this after three previous and bad starts, is always a positive sign before going to the pen.
Said Harvey: “Part of game plan every outing is for every starter to go seven or eight innings. Big save for him,” he commented about Parnell. The Mets got some positive results that were not in the plan, but now that Parnell proved he can do it, well the eighth inning seems more positive.
Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso [email protected]