We've been through some serious ups and downs with Manny Parra, but Sunday night was an example of why we never cease to hold out hope for his future. Parra struck out 10 Cardinals in 5.1 innings, including 7 over the course of the 3rd and 4th innings. He also became the first Brewers pitcher to ever strike out 4 batters in an inning after George Kottaras let one of the punchouts get away from him.
He ran out of gas before he could get through 6 innings and the bullpen lost his lead, but it was still an incredible effort on a national stage (whether or not Ken Macha left him in too long is thankfully a debate we don't have to have, as they got out of the 6th unscathed). Parra's been called a lot of things -- "Million Dollar Arm, Ten Cent Head," "Mental Midget," etc. -- but he showed some incredible composure tonight against one of the most dangerous lineups in the NL Central.
When Yovani Gallardo had his strikeout explosion against the Padres, I gave you the visual of each of his strikeouts. After the jump (click "Read More"), all of Parra's punchouts are there in visual form (plots from Brooks Baseball pitch f/x tool), and I'll explain how Parra was able to last as long as he did even with all the strikeouts.
K #1: Felipe Lopez
K #2: Brendan Ryan
K #3: Aaron Miles
K #4: Jaime Garcia
K #5: Brendan Ryan
K #6: Albert Pujols
K #7: Ryan Ludwick
(For whatever reason, Brooks Baseball didn't have this AB listed for Parra)
K #8: Yadier Molina
K #9: Colby Rasmus
K #10: Felipe Lopez
So what do we see here? A ton of quick strikeouts, for one, which was a big reason why Parra was able to work as deep into the game as he did. It would've been nice to get 6 innings out of him, but as a guy who's been functioning as a reliever for so long and was essentially making a spot start, that probably wasn't realistic. If Parra wasn't able to rack up so many of his strikeouts quickly, his night would have been a lot shorter, which would've meant more innings for the bullpen.
While the bullpen performed admirably again tonight (especially Zach Braddock, who held his composure as he had to work through Pujols and Holliday), I'm not so sure I'd be sitting here talking about a Brewers win if Parra turns in another 3 or 4 inning outing. He deserves credit for one of the best outings of his career, and at the very least you'd have to think he's earned another start, if not a starting spot for the rest of the season.
He's out of option years, so the Brewers need to figure out what they have in him in the remaining months. The team is likely out of contention, so they might as well stick with him for the rest of the season. Who knows, maybe he'll finally fulfill some of that #2/#3 potential.
W: Braddock (1-1)
L: Motte (2-2)
SV: Axford (4)
MIL HR: Weeks (10)
STL HR: Rasmus (10), Pujols (14)