NEW YORK -- Jerry Manuel envisions Bobby Parnell as a closer. Just not yet.
Despite Parnell's explosive fastball and improving command, the Mets manager said Tuesday that he will stick with Hisanori Takahashi as his closer for now -- unless a ninth-inning matchup dictates otherwise.
"We've got to try to do what we can to win games still," said Manuel, explaining his desire to use Takahashi over Parnell in the absence of regular closer Francisco Rodriguez. "But there will probably come an opportunity for him to save games if we think going into that later inning that he's a better matchup than, say, Takahashi."
Striking out more than four times as many batters as he has walked and touching 102 mph on the radar gun on at least one occasion, Parnell has recently gained plenty of proponents for the closer's role -- and with the team 11 games out of first place, there aren't many counterarguments for giving him an audition.
But Manuel has been pleased with what he's seen from Takahashi, who has thrived in every role he has faced this season. And so the Mets will stick with their 35-year-old rookie for now, despite the presence of a potential future closer alongside him in the bullpen.
"I believe that there will come a time in his career where he will be the guy that you give the ball to in the ninth inning to close out a game," said Manuel of Parnell. "Yup, I see that."