Over his last 36 games, Parnell has a 2.07 ERA, having allowed eight earned runs in 34 2/3 innings over that span.
Earlier this week on Twitter, I asked the following question:
On the surface, Parnell has had a great season. Rather than taking one step forward and two steps backwards like he has in prior seasons, Parnell has had longer stretches of success with some bumps in the road. He has learned to vary the speed of his fastball between 92-100 mph - that differential almost serves as a fastball/change-up combination for him. He has also harnessed better command of his fastball as well as his secondary pitches.
There are still issues with Parnell. The main question is, what is he? Up until now, he had been nothing more than a flamethrower with an inconsistent approach to pitching. He has had lapses this year in which he's reverted to being a thrower and not a pitcher, which is consistent with his past.
In addition, Parnell also has proven to be much more effective in lower and medium leverage situations. In close and late situations this year, opponents are hitting .283 with eight extra-base hits against him. And, in tie games, the opposition is hitting .340 against Parnell with seven walks and only eight strikeouts. In addition, Parnell has inherited 25 runners this season, ten of which have scored.
In terms of his contract, Parnell will be arbitration eligible this winter, and will undoubtedly earn a raise from his $504,000 salary this season. While it might not seem significant, Sandy has stated his window to increase payroll is small this winter, and so it might prove to be significant in the grand scheme of things when looking to improve at other positions this winter.
The prudent thing to do might be to trade Parnell now that he has value. While he has always had closer stuff and is showing signs he can be an effective late-inning reliever, I worry about who he really is going forward. Is he the Parnell who can vary the speed of his pitches and finesse hitters while overpowering them at the same time? Or, is he the guy who just throws as hard as he can? I'd hate to see him thrive on another team, but at the same time the Mets are at a point where they have other needs, and trading Parnell could help to fill those needs. It's possible they might be able to find equal value with a smaller salary among some of the younger arms which have been brought up over the last couple of months.