It was interesting to hear Jerry Manuel's comments after last night's game (read to the bottom). With K-Rod tonight unavailable after notching saves in four straight games, Manuel said that JJ Putz or Bobby Parnell will be called upon if a save situation is in order against the Pirates.
It's another clear sign that Sean Green has fallen out of favor and that Parnell has moved ahead of him on the depth chart. I have to admit, I did not expect much from Bobby Parnell this season, but he has made positive contributions so far. He hasn’t exactly been dominant, but he’s been good enough to merit a longer look.
Parnell’s repertoire – a blazing fastball and average breaking stuff – is the stuff that relievers are made of, and so far he’s making the most of his opportunities. That may be why he was so unsuccessful as a starter, since starters need more pitches to give batters different looks the second and third time around the order.
So far Manuel has used Parnell carefully, usually allowing him to start innings instead of coming in with runners already on base. Perhaps Parnell’s appearance in the middle of the seventh inning of Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Braves really was a sign that he will be called upon in higher-leverage situations in the coming weeks.
Tuesday night’s performance, in which Parnell entered with men on base and gave up a run-scoring double to Martin Prado before getting out of the inning, are the types of appearances that good relievers have to succeed in. Starters get a chance to work their way out of trouble; relievers generally do not.