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Bobby Parnell: Transitioning To Closer

When the Mets dealt Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers last month, veteran ninth inning guy Jason Isringhausen stepped into the closer’s role for the Mets. Aside from a pair of meltdowns earlier this month, he did the job admirably and notched career save #300 last night. He’s 22nd on the all-time saves list, and if nothing else, that total shows longevity in a role that generally has no staying power at all. It doesn’t appear that Izzy will get many saves beyond 300, however.

After the game, manager Terry Collins told reporters (including MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo) that the transition to Bobby Parnell as closer begins now. Even before the K-Rod trade it was clear that Parnell was the team’s best in-house option for a long-term closer, but Izzy was allowed to get the six saves he needed for a milestone by the team that drafted and developed him. I don’t see a problem with a non-contender doing that.

Parnell, a 26-year-old righty (27 next month) has some gaudy peripherals this year, striking out 11.12 batters per nine innings with a 49.5% ground ball rate. His walk rate is a bit high even when you take out the intentional walks (3.40 uIBB/9), and it’s right in line with his Double and Triple-A walk rate (3.80 uIBB/9). It’s not that high though, I count nine other full-time closers with a walk rate that high, and six of them have a lower strikeout rate than Parnell. As long as he’s missing bats and getting grounders (and playing in CitiField), the free passes aren’t a huge concern.

ZiPS doesn’t bother to project saves, but it does have Parnell pitching to a 2.94 FIP (9.00 K/9 and 3.38 BB/9) in 15 appearances (16 IP) the rest of the way. I’m curious to know what this whole “transition” thing means; will Parnell share the ninth inning with Izzy? Get half the save chances? Two-thirds? A quarter? Unless Collins said something else that indicated his intentions that I haven’t seen, we’re kind of in the dark here. As of this morning, Parnell is owned in just 7% of Yahoo! leagues and 2.1% of ESPN leagues. That will go up and soon, so make sure you run out and grab him ASAP. Saves are saves, especially this late in the season.