Power fastball. Power breaking ball. Power beard. It took some time and patience, but the Mets' closer-of-the-future Bobby Parnell took a major step forward in 2013 and became the closer-of-now.
With his blazing triple-digit fastball, Parnell had always seemed destined to close games for the Mets one day, and while he enjoyed overall success in relief in years past, high-leverage situations seemed to eat him up. He'd look to throw the ball as fast as possible, fall behind in the count, and bad things would happen.
It was an entirely different story in 2013. From the start, Parnell showed a more measured approach. No longer trying to throw the every pitch 100 mph, he showed drastically better command, stayed ahead of hitters, and showed the poise necessary to close games consistently in the major leagues. As a result, he had one of the best seasons of his career, saving 22 games and compiling a 2.16 ERA in 50 innings, including an outstanding 1.65 ERA in save situations. His strikeout rate was down at 7.9 per nine innings, but his 2.2 walks and 6.8 hits per nine were down, too. Parnell's 1.00 WHIP was the best single-season mark of his career.
Parnell couldn't have handled the transition to full-time closer more seamlessly, but like most good things that happened to the Mets in 2013, it ended in pain. Parnell started experiencing persistent neck discomfort in July that wouldn't go away. It ultimately landed him on the disabled list in August with a herniated disk and ended his 2013 campaign.
He had surgery in September to repair the issue and reportedly dropped a lot of weight according to manager Terry Collins. General manager Sandy Alderson commented that Parnell has been looking a lot better recently, and he was cleared for baseball activities in January and is on track to be ready for spring training.
Desired 2014 role: Mets closer with no ill effects from the injury.
Projected 2014 role: Same thing but perhaps with a slower start as he gets back into shape.