Everyone likes to toss out the Mets bullpen ERA and talk about how bad it is and call it the worst bullpen ever. Truthfully though, the Mets do have some good relievers and they’re getting overshadowed by how bad the overall numbers look.
Tim Byrdak and Jon Rauch have both had pretty good years, give or take a couple of slumps, but it’s Bobby Parnell I want to talk about. ERA is not everything, but Parnell’s is at 3.07 which certainly isn’t bad. Parnell has actually been better than that though, he’s just been victimized by some bad luck and defense. Four of the 19 runs scored against him are unearned. That’s more than 20%.
Since Frank Francisco last pitched for the Mets, Bobby Parnell has pitched 14 innings and allowed 4 earned runs for a 2.57 ERA and a .581 OPS against with 15 strikeouts.
He’s holding opponents to a .354 slugging. Luis Castillo’s career slugging was .351. So Bobby Parnell is as likely to give up an extra base hit as Castillo was to hit one, and you may recall that didn’t happen very often.
He’s been victimized by the Mets not turning double plays. The MLB average is 11% of ground balls with a runner on lead to a double play. The Mets only turn 6% of them for Parnell.
Parnell strikes out 23.4% of the batters he faces, which is well above the MLB average of 18.4%.
He walks 5.7% and the MLB average is 8.5%.
His ground ball to fly ball ratio (with line drives included in fly balls) is 1.38 compared to the league average of 0.8.
His first pitch strike percentage is above average, as is his swinging strike percentage. He throws more total strikes than the average reliever and gets to a 3-0 count less often.
With runners on third and less than two outs the runner scores only 36% of the time against Parnell as compared to 52% league-wide.
So Parnell has actually executed his pitches pretty well and should be getting better results. Games like Jordany Valdespin’s two error game at shortstop make his numbers look worse overall, and double plays not turned have hurt him, particularly because those don’t count as errors because you can’t assume the double play, and ultimately hurt his ERA. Given his strikeout numbers and the fact that he rarely allows extra base hits and home runs, Bobby Parnell is the reliever you most want on the mound in any given high-leverage situation.