The Detroit Tigers brought in Bobby Parnell on a minors deal to potentially improve the bullpen. Here are some numbers to know with Parnell.
Parnell joins the team on a minor-league deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.
The 31-year-old was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in the 2005 draft and made his big league debut during the 2008 season.
In eight seasons, the right-hander has pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen. He had the opportunity to close games in 2013, and racked up 22 saves. Injuries and inconsistency have limited Parnell to 31 appearances over the last two seasons, but he has serious bounce-back potential.
Parnell comes with quite the diverse repertoire. The reliever throws a fastball, a two-seamer, a slider, a cutter, a knuckle curve and a changeup. He’s also been known to mix in a splitter on occasion.
According to FanGraphs, the former Met’s velocity has dipped from the mid-90s to 93.6. However, despite the loss of velocity, Parnell’s off-speed offerings should more than make up for it. There aren’t many pitchers that throw a slider, cutter, knuckle curve, changeup and splitter. All five pitches range from the low to high 80s.
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In his first two seasons, the veteran struggled pitching to a 5.30 ERA in 93.1 innings pitched. That span included only 77 strikeouts and 48 walks. In addition, Parnell made eight starts. However, despite the struggles, the reliever posted a 4.23 FIP, suggesting a sign of better things to come.
Better things did come. From 2010 to 2013, Parnell was one of baseball’s better late-inning relievers thanks to a 2.79 ERA in 213 innings pitched. That span included much-improved strikeout and walk numbers. Over the four-year span, the pitcher struck out 202 batters while only walking 67.
What’s perhaps the most impressive is Parnell’s FIP. While his ERA from 2010 to 2013 was 2.79, the former New York player’s FIP was a nearly-identical 2.78. His excellent FIP suggests he can thrive regardless of the defense behind him.
Parnell did struggle in 2015, but he was coming off Tommy John surgery. The pitcher’s ERA was an unsightly 6.38, and he had more walks (17) than strikeouts (13), but his 4.18 FIP is encouraging. In addition, he didn’t allow a home run in 24 innings pitched.
Reason for Optimism
If Parnell can get back to his 2010-2013 form, the Detroit Tigers may just have an elite bullpen. Despite his struggles last year, the reliever allowed only one run in his first 13 appearances. What’s more, his BABIP was an astronomical .370 last season. In other words, the Mets didn’t help him much on defense.
Will Parnell Make the Team?
If he performs well, then Parnell has a significant chance to make the team. Francisco Rodriguez, Mark Lowe, Justin Wilson, Blaine Hardy and Alex Wilson are assured jobs, but after that the final bullpen spots are up for grabs. If the former New York Met can out pitch the likes of Drew VerHagen, Bruce Rondon, Jose Valdez and Drake Britton, he could make the team.