Those who believe Bobby Parnell just doesn’t have the mentality to close have gained a little more ammunition over the last week.
Parnell blew his second save in four days, and Pedro Beato threw a wild pitch to score the winning run in the 10th as the Mets lost to the Nationals 5-4 on Tuesday.
Parnell is now 2-for-4 in save opportunities since replacing the injured Frank Francisco in the closer’s role. He hasn’t really fallen apart in either blown save; the Nationals, like the Braves before them on Saturday, simply managed to string together three singles and score a run off him tonight. Still, that can’t make manager Terry Collins feel much better about things.
After Parnell lost a one-run lead in the ninth, the Mets went back ahead in the top of the 10th on a Josh Thole double. However, Tim Byrdak and Beato combined to blow it from there. A Bryce Harper triple tied the game, and Beato’s wild pitch ended it.
With Parnell looking like a better option in the eighth than the ninth, the Mets could go to a closer-by-committee until Francisco returns. However, they’re short of quality alternatives, and one guy Collins does seem to have faith in for a late-inning role, Miguel Batista, is about to move into the rotation in place of Dillon Gee.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.