NEW YORK -- Bobby Parnell has been the Mets' most consistent reliever this season, but manager Terry Collins doesn't want to push his hard-throwing right-hander into late-inning duty quite yet.
Collins tried Parnell in the closer role last season, and the experiment didn't go as planned. Parnell was 4-6 with a 4.45 ERA, six saves and six blown saves.
"With what Bobby went through last fall, I'm going to try and avoid that and let him build up to that closer role," Collins said. "Obviously, we've said for the two years I've been here [that] he's got closer stuff. I don't want the failure side. He already had it once. He had some tough times last summer. He's grown from it, he's gotten better for it, he's pitching very, very well in the situation he's in and we're going to gradually ease him into some different situations."
Parnell has bounced back this season with a 2.12 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 17 innings. While Parnell is enjoying success, the Mets' bullpen has had its struggles. Mets closer Frank Francisco is 1-3 with an 8.59 ERA, and setup man Jon Rauch took the loss Wednesday against Cincinnati, allowing three earned runs while only registering one out in the eighth inning.
"It's all about the confidence thing," Collins said. "I don't want to break it down when it's moving forward at the rate it is with Bob. We're going to probably give him some different opportunities to pitch deeper into games, later into games, because he's earned that. I just want to make sure it's the right time."