Mets' closer Bobby Parnell cleared for baseball activities

Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE

Parnell is expected to maintain his role as the team's closer.

Mets closer Bobby Parnell has been cleared to pitch again after recovering from a herniated disk in his neck last season, according to ESPN New York's Adam Rubin.

Parnell, 29, hit the disabled list last August after saving 22 games for New York. Through 50 innings, he posted a 2.16 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in his first extended look as the club's go-to guy in the ninth-inning.

He benefited from a career-low .264 batting average on balls in play and exceptionally good fortune in terms of home run-to-flyball ratio (2.8 percent compared to a career rate of 6.9 percent), but he was nearly as good in 2012 without the benefit of benevolent balls in play.

The 2014 season could be an important season for Parnell's financial fate. He made $1.7 million last season and will make an estimated $3.2 million in 2014, thanks to the arbitration panel's tendency to reward counting stats like saves. If he holds down the closer role all season, his 2015 arbitration hearing could result in another significant raise. John Axford, for example, went from making close to the league minimum to earning $5 million last season after his 46-save performance for the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers.

The Mets might not be able to give Parnell that many save opportunities, but his return to good health could be pretty useful for the club, even if the end result is an especially well-compensated thirty-something relief pitcher for 2015.

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