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."
Alderson will alter bullpen further, if necessary
NEW YORK -- It may have only been a roster move, but it could be an omen of things to come. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson met the media Thursday morning and addressed his decision to shuffle the bullpen and the repercussions it could have on the rest of the staff.
New York's relief staff has nine blown saves -- tied for the most in the Majors -- and has worked to a 5.14 ERA, the worst among all National League clubs. Alderson reacted to that trend by designating veteran D.J. Carrasco for assignment and recalling Robert Carson from Triple-A Buffalo.
That could just be the beginning, but the Mets would prefer not to effect sweeping change.
"The bullpen has been a frustration. There's no question about that," said Alderson of his team's prominent weak spot. "We haven't had the consistency or the depth that we'd like to have. At some point, you have to start making changes, and [Wednesday] night was a step in that direction. It's not that we have outstanding candidates in the Minor League system at this point. We've got some good candidates, but like a number of our other prospects, perhaps they're not ready to pitch at this level."
Alderson said that he came into the season knowing that relief pitchers are unpredictable, and he said that he hoped to build an inventory of arms within the farm system. That way, he could have a hierarchy of contingency plans that could go right back to the Minor Leagues if things didn't work out.
The plan, for now, is to use Carson as a second situational southpaw, and Alderson said the Mets may also promote Jenrry Mejia at some point. Mejia is working as a starter, and Alderson said the Mets want him to make two starts for Double-A Binghamton and another two for Buffalo.
At that point, he said, the Mets would reevaluate where Mejia fits best. Alderson plans on being vigilant for relief help in the interim, but not at the expense of the men already on his roster.
"We always look outside, but so are about 25 other teams," he said. "I think I'm actually more excited -- if necessary -- to create opportunity for guys inside the organization. If you look at the rest of the team, that's essentially what's happened. We've either preserved opportunity or created opportunity for guys within the organization. If you're going to succeed or fail, it's better doing it with your own guys."
Alderson said he empathized with manager Terry Collins, who has been "a little bit hamstrung" by the bullpen. But Alderson believes some of his relievers will go back to their career norms, and he doesn't want to swing a wrecking ball through a club with a winning record.
"The temptation is always to change," said Alderson. "It's probably the most emotionally satisfying option. But it's not necessarily the best thing to do, because at some point, you run out of options. Then you have to recycle back, and in the meantime, you've impacted the psyche of a lot of different people. The goal here is not, 'Hey, we signed this guy to do this and he's going to do this.' That's not really our philosophy, but at the same time, you do have to be careful about making change."
Carson may become second lefty specialist
NEW YORK -- Left-handed reliever Robert Carson placed two calls after he was informed he would be making his second stint with the Mets this season -- one to his agent and the other to his mother.
"My mom was excited again," Carson said. "It's a crazy feeling. I came up a few weeks ago. [I'm at a] loss for words, just to be back here talking with these guys. I'm really excited about it."
Carson, 23, was an emergency callup earlier in the season, but never appeared in a game. He was brought up from Double-A Binghamton on Wednesday after reliever D.J. Carrasco was designated for assignment. Mets manager Terry Collins said he expects Carson's stay to last longer than his previous one. Collins hopes the young pitcher can develop into New York's second left-handed reliever.
"We're going to put him in some situations, hopefully in the beginning, where he has a much better chance of success, so we can build the confidence that he can pitch at this level," Collins said. "If I'm Robert Carson, I'm latching on to Tim Byrdak."
Byrdak, the Mets' left-handed specialist, worked with Carson the last time he was called up and is no stranger to mentoring young pitchers. Carson didn't have the opportunity to work with the 38-year-old veteran during Spring Training because he was nursing an oblique injury, but Byrdak said intends to talk with Carson about adjusting to the big leagues.
"All he has to do to stick here is gain Terry Collins' confidence," Byrdak said. "That's the bottom line. Any of these young guys get called up, you pitch well, you get the manager's confidence, he's going to keep putting you in games and he's not going to be afraid to use you."
While Collins couldn't watch Carson this spring, he has seen the left-hander pitch. He said Carson throws a 94-95 mph fastball with a good cutter and slider, but for him to be successful, he'll have to command his pitches. Carson is 0-1 with a 1.84 ERA in 14 2/3 innings with Binghamton this season.
"He's had a very good year," Collins said. "I thought it was a very good move by the Minor League people to put him in the bullpen. He's had a few years where he's started, so he's accumulated enough innings to develop better command of his stuff."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. Ethan Asofsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.