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Mets' Bobby Parnell is helping the bullpen in a big way

The New York Mets, including relief pitcher Bobby

The New York Mets, including relief pitcher Bobby Parnell and catcher Travis d'Arnaud, celebrate the 3-2 win against the Toronto Blue Jays in a baseball game at Citi Field on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Bobby Parnell faced the best hitter in baseball as the potential tying run in the eighth inning Saturday.

He did not blow away the Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt with a 99-mph fastball, as the Parnell of old would have done. He started him off with a modest 93-mph four-seamer that nicked the corner, threw a knuckle-curve out of the strike zone and then went back to the fastball. Goldschmidt responded by grounding into a 6-4-3 double play. Then Yasmany Tomas grounded out to end the inning.

This is the Bobby Parnell of 2015 -- far removed from the flame-throwing closer who had to be shut down for Tommy John surgery -- and that's just fine, said Terry Collins, who obviously is not hesitant about using him in big situations.

Parnell has been consistent and perhaps even an unexpected bright spot for the bullpen. In nine innings in 10 appearances, he's allowed one earned run and seven hits with six strikeouts.

"He is a lot more crafty than he used to be because he had such a power arm," Collins said. "Now he's got to make pitches, and that's what he's relied on . . . You're seeing a guy that when he goes out there has confidence that he can get a ground ball."

Expected to produce

Collins reiterated that he expects big things from the middle of his lineup -- particularly Lucas Duda and Michael Cuddyer -- in the second half.

"This guy has a history of hitting," Collins said of the 36-year-old Cuddyer, two years removed from a batting title and one year removed from an injury-plagued season in which he played 49 games. "I'm not too sure he's ever hit .235, so you're going to think, look, he's going to start hitting, which is going to change the middle of our lineup."

Cuddyer, who has an injured left knee, is a career .277 hitter and now is hitting .244. He singled in the first inning against Patrick Corbin but got nothing else.

"The middle of the lineup is going to change when our two big guys get hot," Collins said. "When you take the median of all their numbers, I think they're going to be in that area . . . I really do."

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