It has been my opinion for a while now that Bobby Parnell would be a perfectly reasonable option to close games for the New York Mets.
Parnell, who turned 28 last month, just concluded a fine 2012 season. Throwing exclusively fastballs (at 95.7 MPH) and curveballs (at 82.8 MPH), he compiled an ERA of 2.49, struck out eight batters per nine innings, and walked just 2.6 per nine.
I wondered how that compared to other closers from 2012. Here’s what I found.
Among those pitchers with at least 20 saves in 2012, and there were 29 of them, Parnell’s strikeout rate would rank 25th. His walk rate would rank 13th of 29. And his ERA checks in tied for tenth.
However, Parnell’s xFIP is a bit higher, at 3.15. Still, that ranks tenth-best among closers with at least 20 saves, too.
If Parnell repeats his 2012 in 2013, he’ll be a better than league average closer.
Now that doesn’t account for the $6.5 million the Mets are paying Frank Francisco next season. But that is what’s called a sunk cost. They are doing that whether Francisco is used sub-optimally as closer, or more appropriately, as a middle relief option.
I say sub-optimally because Frank Francisco is 33 years old. Do you know how many seasons he’s had a better xFIP than Parnell’s 2012? Zero. He’s never done it.
So the Mets have plenty of problems with the current roster to fix. But they do not need to go out and get a closer. They just need to use the right closer already on the roster.