The Rattle Take: The D-Backs getting the worst of Mark Melancon
By Alvin Garcia
What has defined closer Mark Melancon over the years is consistency. A concept that he may have lost when he got his Diamondbacks jersey. He has not been all terrible, as he has only blown one save so far. But watching Melancon pitch is nerve-racking. He makes every D-Backs fan sweat when he gets the call to the mound.
After returning from injury, Melancon first blown save on the Arizona uniform was on May seventh. He gave up four runs (three earned) on five hits in two-thirds of an inning against the Rockies. However, he was able to get one out. An eighth-inning run by Arizona gave them the 1-0 lead. Melancon got the call to close things for Arizona, but he failed miserably, allowing four runs to score on three consecutive two-out singles.
After Arizona's 11-3 defeat to Miami on Wednesday, manager Torey Lovullo revealed that closer Mark Melancon is having problems controlling his cutter but that he will remain the team's closer. Melancon, now 0-4 for the season, took the loss after pitching two-thirds of the ninth inning and surrendering four runs on three hits and one walk.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Diamondbacks had tied the game due to a pinch-hit two-run home run by Jordan Luplow, but Melancon was unsuccessful in the ninth. Arizona's closer gave up four runs for the second time in three appearances. In 10.2 innings, Melancon's ERA jumped to 6.75 and his WHIP to 1.97. Since Melancon has an 8.7 K%, he has only recorded four strikeouts of his 32 outs performed.
The Diamondbacks signed Mark Melancon to a two-year, $14 million deal. Early in November, Melancon opted out of his contract with the Padres. While serving as the Padres closer in 2021, the right-hander was the league's leader by converting 39 of 45 save opportunities. He pitched 64 innings in relief and had an ERA of 2.23 and a WHIP of 1.22 last season.
Melancon explained that his cutter, two-seam fastball, and the changeup were all getting new grips in Spring training. At that time, with poor performance in the cactus league, Melancon said that the outcomes were unimportant since he could always go back to his old habits. Well, the changeup that the closer said he had wanted to implement does not exist. Instead, it has been registering as a curveball, which he has thrown over 33.5% of the time. Batters are hitting .444 off the curveball and .303 off the cutter. He has only thrown two fastballs in 178 pitches.
Melancon preserved the 4-3 win against the Cubs, retiring the side in order in the ninth inning. After a significant setback on his last outing, he came back to the mound. Lovullo sent the closer, and Melancon was trusted to maintain a one-run lead and delivered. As a result, he lowered his ERA to 6.17 for the season. After replacing Ian Kennedy, Melancon retired the Cubs without a strikeout.
While he did show better control of his pitches, consistency is still in question. Melancon will need to remain consistent to maintain his closer role in the team. Unfortunately, his new grips are unsuccessful, and the fans hope he can go to his old ways. We will wait and see if the 37-year-old can keep up with the role in a tough division.