With all of the bullpen meltdowns recently, I have questioned why Terry Collins does not use Bobby Parnell more, instead insisting on calling on relievers who have been shaky at best.
After the latest meltdown on Wednesday I wrote:
Collins seems reluctant to use Parnell in certain situations. Perhaps he knows something the rest of us do not. Otherwise, his use — or non-use — of Parnell is baffling.
On Tuesday I speculated on whom should be the closer if Francisco is removed:
Parnell has been pitching well this season, but it can’t be forgotten that he was given the chance to close last season and could not handle the job. Collins seems wary of bringing Parnell into games in super-tight situations… I think Collins wants to move slowly with Parnell, inching him closer to save situations. He likely is not ready yet.
On Thursday Collins explained his handling of Parnell, and I was thinking along the correct lines.
“With what Bobby went through last fall, I’m gonna try to avoid that and let him build up to that closer role,” Collins told ESPNNewYork.com before the game. “He’s got closer stuff. I don’t want the failure side — he’s already had it once. He had some tough times last summer.”
Collins continued. “He’s pitching very, very well in the situation he’s in. And we’re gonna gradually ease him into some different situations. We’re gonna probably give him some different opportunities, to pitch deeper into games, later in the games, ’cause he’s earned that. He’s certainly earned that.”
Collins made good on that promise on Thursday, giving Parnell the eighth inning of a tied game, while using Jon Rauch, who usually gets the eighth inning, in the seventh. Parnell came through with a scoreless frame.
“He’s taken such a large step forward, I don’t wanna have him take a big step back just yet,” Collins said.