The Tigers announced today that they’ve selected the contract of right-hander Bobby Parnell from Triple-A Toledo and designated fellow righty Jose Valdez for assignment in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster (links to Twitter). Australian right-hander Warwick Saupold was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a groin injury, necessitating the addition of Parnell to the big league bullpen.
Parnell, 31, signed a minor league deal with Detroit and headed to Toledo after he didn’t make the team out of Spring Training. The former Mets closer has pitched to a 3.98 ERA in 20 1/3 innings with the Mud Hens this season, though he’s also posted a fairly uninspiring 16-to-11 K/BB ratio in that time. Parnell is looking to reestablish himself as a quality Major League reliever after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014 and missing much of the 2015 season while recovering from that injury and, later in the year, some tendinitis in his right shoulder. All in all, he posted a 6.38 ERA in 24 innings last season.
Injury problems for Parnell date back further than just the 2014-15 campaigns, however. In 2013, Parnell was in the midst of a dominant season as the Mets’ closer before a herniated disk in his neck left him unable to pitch after July 30. On a more positive note, he did work to a 2.16 ERA in 50 innings that season, and he was generally impressive from 2010-13, generating a 2.79 ERA with 8.5 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 213 innings of work. Parnell’s average fastball velocity is understandably down from its 97.2 mph peak (2011), but he still averaged 93 mph on his heater last season.
As for Valdez, the 26-year-old made his big league debut in 2015 when he allowed four runs on 10 hits and four walks with four strikeouts in nine innings out of the Detroit bullpen. He’s battled his control between Double-A and Triple-A this season, though, walking 12 batters, hitting one and uncorking three wild pitches in 20 innings of relief en route to a combined 4.50 ERA. It’s worth noting that Baseball America rated him 23rd among Detroit farmhands entering the season, although BA questioned his control and noted that he’s frequently behind in the count due to an inability to consistently command either his fastball or his slider.