Keeping ball in park contributes to Parnell's success
NEW YORK -- Bobby Parnell cannot remember the last time he gave up a home run.
"Man, what do you want ... to jinx me?" the Mets' closer said when asked about it. "We don't want to talk about it."
For those keeping track, it was Padres third baseman Chase Headley who last redirected a Parnell pitch over the fence on Aug. 4, 2012. Since that time, Parnell has appeared in 60 games and pitched 61 1/3 innings. He has saved some games, absorbed some losses and given up his share of runs.
But Parnell has not allowed a single homer, one of only two pitchers with at least 40 innings over that span to do so. (Oakland's Ryan Cook is the other.) That, more than any other attribute, has keyed Parnell's success since taking over the closer's role.
Though Parnell's ground-ball and strikeout rates are both down from last year, he has succeeded thanks to a reduced walk rate and, of course, a reduced home run rate.
"I don't think of myself as a strikeout pitcher," Parnell said. "I think of myself as a ground-ball pitcher, and in order for me to get ground balls, I have to throw down in the zone. As long as I'm not hanging breaking balls and hanging fastballs up, I think I can stay away from deep fly balls. So I just try to stay down in the zone as much as possible."