Mark Melancon (35) days until Opening Day…
The key piece of last winter’s Joel Hanrahan trade, Melancon emerged as one of baseball’s best setup men in his first year as a Pirate. The numbers were incredible: 1.39 ERA (1.64 FIP), 8.9 K/9, 1.0 BB/9 in 72 appearances. His earned run average stayed under one run for the majority of the season, and he deservedly made the NL All-Star team.
ZiPS – 2.75 ERA, 64 K, 14 BB, 68.2 IP
Steamer – 2.75 ERA, 60 K, 17 BB, 65 IP
Oliver – 2.82 ERA, 62 K, 15 BB, 70 IP
Questions for 2014…
1. Cut back on the cutter?
Melancon’s go-to pitch – the cutter – dominated opposing hitters for most of last year. He used the pitch over 75% of the time: 770 out of 1017 pitches. Here’s how opponents hit Melancon’s cutter by month:
April – .184
May – .243
June – .258
July – .192
August – .240
September – .419
October – .429
It was getting pounded pretty hard by the end of the year. He didn’t lose any velocity or much movement to the pitch as the season went on. Could’ve been better pitch recognition by hitters the more they saw him. Will be interesting to see if he mixes in more offspeed stuff or keeps hammering hitters with the cutter every 3 out of 4 pitches or so.
2. How about that walk rate?
He walked just eight batters all season long – none in April, two in May (first of the year in his 19th outing, May 12th), two in June, three in July, one in August, none in September. Again, only Mujica walked less (5).
If Melancon can keep the walks at a minimum, should be another solid year for him.