The long journey back for Bobby Parnell has reached a dead end
The last time Bobby Parnell pitched in a game, it was against the Pirates following a short rain delay against Pittsburgh at Citi Field. The Mets had played the Pirates real well to that point without a win to show for it in two extra-inning losses.
Parnell’s journey back from Tommy John Surgery had already begun to implode by that outing. Two days before, he had allowed two runs without getting an out to the Pirates while taking the loss.
And in his last outing, he allowed two runs in 2/3 of an inning in a disastrous seventh which sent the Mets on their way to a sweep at the hands of the Pirates.
It was at that point the Mets gave Parnell some choices. He could accept an optional assignment to Las Vegas, be designated for assignment, or go on the disabled list.
He chose the third option, and went back to work in an effort to find the consistency with his mechanics which made him so successful before injuring his neck in the latter part of the 2013 season.
Parnell returned in the sixth inning on Monday night with hope he corrected his mechanical issues and found the consistency he needs to be a valuable part of the bullpen down the stretch for a team he has been through thick and thin with over the years.
That did not happen on Tuesday night.
Parnell once again could not get any outs in the sixth inning. It started with consecutive walks to Andres Blanco and Carlos Ruiz. But to make matters worse, Freddy Galvis gave himself up, and while Parnell fielded the ball he threw it wildly down the first base line which allowed Blanco to score.
“Just was one of those days,” Parnell explained. “I’ve been working hard, and I’m going to continue to. Things aren’t going my way right now. It’s not where I want to be.”
That would be all for Parnell, as he could only hope Eric O’Flaherty could bail him out and limit the damage.
O’Flaherty did not do that.
He came in and proceeded to walk Cameron Rupp to load the bases with nobody out.
Terry Collins then turned to Carlos Torres, who only made the situation – and his place on a postseason depth chart – worse.
Torres got rocked, starting with a well-struck double to Darnell Sweeney which plated Ruiz and Galvis. Then after Torres retired Cesar Hernandez and Aaron Altherr, Torres somehow walked Jeff Francoeur – who had 11 walks coming into that plate appearance – which allowed Darin Ruf to come up and complete a spectacular night at the plate with a two-run single to plate Rupp and Sweeney.
Torres was not done giving up runs, however.
Blanco came up again and doubled in both Francoeur and Ruf. He did induce a groundball from Ruiz to Ruben Tejada with hopes of getting the final out, but Michael Cuddyer couldn’t handle the short hop, allowing Blanco to score and complete the bludgeoning in the sixth inning.
As for Parnell, Collins felt it was a good spot to inject Parnell even though it was his first outing in over two weeks and the club had just fought back to pull within two runs after falling behind by six early.
“It was the bottom of the order and I thought if we get [Parnell] back out there after what he’s been through I thought it might be a lift for him,” Collins said. “He just didn’t throw any strikes.”
He wasn’t even close, as it turns out, and the decision to use him in that spot after the club had come back the previous inning was debatable too. The sad part about this outing for Parnell is he didn’t even allow any hits, and got slaughtered anyway.
“It’s been a long two years,” Parnell explained.
It has, and it’s hard not to feel terrible for him. Remember, he originally sustained a herniated disc in his neck in July, 2013 which required season-ending surgery. He’s admitted that recovery impacted his ability to get in proper shape for the 2014 season, which might have helped lead to blowing out his elbow and missing all of last year. His return has been unusual because he’s really had to recover from two injuries which kept him out nearly two years.
It just hasn’t worked out for Parnell at all, despite a promising start to his journey when he was activated in June.
As was the case before he went on the disabled list, Parnell’s arm is not in throwing position when he turns towards the plate to release. The result is a lot of drag through his delivery and having to force his arm to catch up with the rest of the body, which is why he was missing so badly away from the left-handed hitters.
“I’m really concerned about it, especially after the other day in batting practice he threw the ball absolutely great,” Collins said about Parnell after the game. “Today, he just didn’t throw it over the plate.”
At this point, Collins is going to be hard pressed to use Parnell until they figure out how to straighten his mechanics out. If there’s anything encouraging for Parnell, it’s that the velocity is coming back. So they’ve got nothing to lose to see if he can straighten himself out over the next month.
It’s a matter of getting him back to where he was two years ago both physically and mentally at this point.
And right now, that seems awfully far away for Parnell.