The bullpen was a strength for the Miami Marlins in 2015, as both A.J. Ramos and Carter Capps established themselves as dependable late-inning relievers, and the combination of Mike Dunn and Bryan Morris proved to be effective once again. As a result, the Marlins headed into Spring Training without many doubts about their relief corps.
Then, it came to light that Capps would have to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the entire season. Arguably Miami's most dominant relief pitcher, Carter Capps was supposed to fight it out with Ramos for the closing role, but his injury has left a gaping hole in Miami's 'pen.
On Friday, it was reported that the Fish were interested in 33 year old Ross Ohlendorf, a reliever who has pitched well over the last two seasons, but owns a career ERA of 4.84. Ohlendorf signed with the Reds over the weekend, but the fact that the Marlins checked-in on him shows that they are not comfortable with the state of the bullpen despite impressive spring performances by the likes of Nefi Ogando and Craig Breslow.
There were even headlines linking Miami with Tim Lincecum for a bullpen spot at one point, which may have been an indication of panic within the organization. Well, there is now another bullpen option on the open market. The Detroit Tigers released long-time Mets reliever Bobby Parnell on Monday, and he carriers an intriguing resume with him.
Between 2010 and 2013, Parnell posted a sub-three ERA three times. Most notably, he saved 22 games in 2013 to go along with a 1.00 WHIP over 50 innings. He then underwent Tommy John surgery after one appearance the following year. He currently holds an ugly 8.68 ERA over 9.1 innings of work this spring, but his last outing before being released was encouraging as it saw his velocity increase and result in two strikeouts in one inning.
Parnell signed with the Tigers on a minor league contract, and after a disappointing 2015 season, he could be available on the cheap. This makes Parnell a possible low-risk, high-reward player for the Fish. There are many players in Miami's camp who are in the mix for a bullpen spot with the team, but a few of them are inexperienced, and with experience comes uncertainty. For a team looking to break into the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, this uncertainty is a problem.
If the Miami Marlins really are concerned about the state of their bullpen, then they are quickly running out of time to improve before the curtain is raised for the 2016 season. While there are red flags with Bobby Parnell when it comes to injury history and recent performances, he has enjoyed very successful seasons in the past. At 31 years of age, Parnell could be yet another veteran presence in the clubhouse, and an arm to rely on in close games down the stretch.