Keys to Parnell's Harvey-like start

Bobby Parnell has pitched only 15 innings this season, but thanks to some good timing, his numbers are almost identical on the surface with those of Mets ace Matt Harvey -- 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA.

Matt Harvey & Bobby Parnell
2013 Season

Parnell does have two blown saves on his ledger, though one was the fault of his defense (Ruben Tejada’s bad throw in Colorado). Since Parnell was passed up for a save chance against the Marlins (with a 1-0 lead in the ninth), he’s made four scoreless appearances, racking up a save and three straight wins.

He’s the third Mets reliever in the last 35 seasons to record a win in three straight appearances, joining Dennis Cook (1999) and Duaner Sanchez (2006), though that’s much more based on circumstance than performance.

But what meaningful takeaways can we observe from Parnell’s work this season? Here’s a snapshot look at four key takeaways. Share your thoughts on if this performance is sustainable in the comments section.

The defense is (mostly) helping, not hurting

Mets fielders (save the one miscue by Tejada) have been good about turning batted balls hit versus Parnell into outs.

Parnell’s BABIP from 2010 to 2012 is .335 and when you add in 10 hitters who reached via error (six last season), opponents were reaching about 36 percent of the time when they hit the ball and it stayed in the park.

This season, they’ve reached only eight of 36 times that the ball was put in play (22 percent).

Parnell can thank the likes of Juan Lagares, who made the fantastic catch in the ninth inning last night, for that.

Fewer swings and misses, but more foul balls

Parnell is getting misses on 17 percent of swings against him, or about one of every six swings. That’s a little unusual for Parnell, who has gotten misses at a rate closer to one of every four swings over the last three seasons.

Parnell Prior to 2 Strikes

However, hitters are not squaring up Parnell often. Though the miss rate is down, the rate of foul balls against Parnell has jumped, particularly prior to two-strike counts (when a foul counts the same as a missed swing).

Opponents have fouled off 34 of 64 swings against Parnell prior to two strikes (53 percent rate). Parnell’s numbers from 2010 to 2012 were such that he would net about 24 foul in those situations.

That helps account for how Parnell has thrown 68 percent strikes this season (up from 63 percent over the last three seasons) and his 14-to-2 strikeout-to-walk rate.

Good offspeed stuff

Parnell has made good use of both his slider and curveball this season, particularly the last couple of weeks.

In his last 10 appearances, Parnell has thrown 35 breaking pitches, retiring 11 hitters (including one via double play) and yielding only one walk

Shutting down lefties

This wasn’t applicable last night, but Parnell’s work against left-handed hitters this season has been terrific.

Lefties are 2-for-22 with no walks against him. Dating back to last season, left-handed hitters are 2-for-their-last-40 with 16 strikeouts and one walk.