Exactly two weeks ago today, Mark Melancon faced a pinch-hitter with 2 outs in the 9th inning of a game the Pirates were leading 1-0. The pinch-hitter was Daniel Murphy who entered the game viewing the situation as it was the Nats were losing 1-0. Melancon had Murphy in a 2-2 count, and came inside on Murphy who turned on the cutter and crushed it for a game tying HR. Melancon probably did not know the scouting report on Murphy. The Pirates did not lose the game, unfortunately, even though Melancon was tagged with the Blown Save. That game went 18 innings, and you know the rest.
Now that Melancon is a Washington National he joked about that Murphy home run, “I was trying to help ‘us’ out.”
Melancon comes to the Nats with a 1.51 ERA this season and would be even better in 2016 if Daniel Murphy did not hit that home run off of him and cause him a blown save, and inflate his slugging-percentage-against. The only other HR that Melancon had given up this seaon was to Paul Goldschmidt early in the season. Melancon has 30 saves this season, and hitters are only slashing .205/.252/.265/.516 against him. In the Statcast™ era, the exit velocity on balls-in-play off of Melancon is the lowest of any pitcher since the start of the 2015 season. Melancon has a 8.2/K9 this season also which is just under 1 per inning. The math tells you that Melancon is relying on weak contact to get approximately 2 outs per every inning he works.
We wrote this story last year on Melancon with some great quotes that will give you some insight into his past and what makes him so good.
Here is your first look of Mark Melancon as he departs the Pirates for his trip to San Francisco to meet his new team.
“We put a lot of work into a lot of different ideas and deals, and this one made the most sense for us,” Mike Rizzo said. “He’s a known commodity and he’s a successful late-inning reliever and a guy we had followed for years. A good makeup guy, and battle tested and one of the elite relievers in the game. I just think that his resume and his performance level dictated that he was a guy to really go after and attack. Although we’ll have him for a short time this year, we thought that the situation and the deal that we had to make to acquire such an accomplished reliever was worth it ”
Both Dusty Baker and Mike Rizzo spoke to Jonathan Papelbon before the Melancon trade was made. “[Papelbon] wants to win, you know,” Baker said. “That’s all he talked about— winning.”
Mike Rizzo is still working on trades to improve the Nationals in what our source called “strategic upgrades”. That does not define much, and when we asked if someone like Carlos Beltran could fit as a strategic upgrade we were told that could be a possibility.
In the team the Nationals are facing today, Brian Sabean and staff went under the radar to snag Eduardo Nunez. How did a .296 hitter with 27 stolen bases become available in a one-for-one trade for a Triple-A pitcher, Adalberto Mejia, with a 4.20 ERA? That is how the Giants win championships. They will find players who have tools either in their system or in a trade who can make an impact. Who was the difference in Saturday’s loss? Eduardo Nunez.
Sometimes it is not the big sexy name that makes the difference rather an under the radar player who nobody else was considering like Sabean has done with Pat Burrell, Javier Lopez, Cody Ross, Marco Scutaro, and Travis Ishikawa. Yes, sometimes you need a Hunter Pence and Jake Peavy if they are available.
The other distinguishing factor with the Giants is they do not allow performances in past years affect key decisions in their present thinking like they did with Tim Lincecum to remove him from their starting rotation in 2014, and as they did with Barry Zito back in 2010. It is “what have you done for me lately”?
Mike Rizzo made a big bold move with Mark Melancon, now go under the radar.