Melancon making a solid first impression

The Joel Hanrahan trade brought four players to Pittsburgh, but only one secured a spot on the 25-man roster to start the 2013 season.

Stolmy Pimentel, Ivan De Jesus, and Jerry Sands are paying their dues in the minor leagues, while Mark Melancon is proving himself in the Bucco bullpen.

With Hanrahan shipped to Boston and Jason Grilli sliding into the closer role, Melancon stepped in as setup man and is doing a fine job. His game-by-game performance thus far:

Rk Date Opp Rslt Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA BF Pit Str
1 Apr 1 CHC L,1-3 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 4 9 8
2 Apr 4 CHC L,2-3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 3 11 9
3 Apr 6 @ LAD L,0-1 1.0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 4 10 8
4 Apr 8 @ ARI W,5-3 H(1) 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 3 16 12
5 Apr 9 @ ARI W,6-5 H(2) 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 3 7 6
6 Apr 12 CIN W,6-5 H(3) 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 3 15 9
7 Apr 13 CIN W,3-1 H(4) 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 3 10 8
7.0 2 0 0 0 6 0 0.00 23
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/14/2013.

Some notable facts about Melancon’s work this year, as of Saturday, April 13th:

– He has pitched in more games than any other Bucco pitcher, appearing in seven of the first 11 games.

– He’s one of three relievers who have yet to surrender a run. Jason Grilli and Justin Wilson have also held their opponents scoreless.

– Tied with Jared Hughes for fewest hits allowed (2).

– Lowest opponent batting average (.087) and WHIP (0.29) on the club.

– Only Pirate pitcher that hasn’t walked a batter.

– Produced 12 ground ball outs, more than any other relief pitcher.

One of the most impressive parts of Melancon’s pitching thus far has been his ability to quickly retire batters. He’s thrown just 78 pitches in 2013, which equates to about 11 per inning and 3.39 per batter (23 total batters faced) – pretty astounding numbers. The most he’s thrown in an outing was 16 vs. Arizona on April 8th, and his fewest was 7 on the very next night against the D-backs. Melancon has been pounding the zone as well, throwing 60 of 78 pitches for strikes.

When the Bucs were going strong in 2012, their bullpen was tough to beat. If they want to succeed this year, they’ll have to bring the same tenacity and consistency to lock down ballgames. The starters haven’t been able to pitch too deep into ballgames so far, and the bullpen has already been tested. Melancon and Grilli at the backend of the ‘pen, as well as Hughes, Wilson, and Tony Watson through the middle are a big reason why the Pirates have won 5 of 11 games to start the year.

Also, Melancon joined Twitter on Saturday. Be sure to follow him at @Mark_Melancon_.

Go Bucs

In 35 Days…

Mark Melancon (35) days until Opening Day.

Melancon comes to Pittsburgh as part of the Joel Hanrahan trade, and looks to thrive as one of Jason Grilli‘s setup men. We named him one of our Pirates to watch in 2013.

Three questions about number 35…

1. Can he bounce back from an abysmal 2012? As you’ve probably heard by now, Melancon was terrible for the Red Sox last season. Allowing 11 runs in two April innings earned himself a demotion to Class AAA; he didn’t get along with manager Bobby Valentine, either. Melancon was impressive in September, however, surrendering just one run in 10 innings of work, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can build off that.

2. Will he settle into the eighth inning role? With Grilli filling Hanrahan’s ninth inning void, the Bucs will need someone to hold down the setup job. The club also has Tony Watson and Jared Hughes to split the duties, but Melancon could find his niche in the eighth inning. With a mid-90’s fastball and 12-6 curve among the pitches in his repertoire, he’s capable of striking men out; he’s posted a K/9 rate of 8.0 in his career. He could be a key piece to this year’s squad, and the Bucs may depend on him in the late innings.

3. Can he help justify the Hanrahan trade? Melancon will most likely be the first player from the Hanrahan deal to make an impact. Jerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus are fighting for a job, while Stolmy Pimentel is still in the minors. Melancon should get an opportunity right off the bat, and he’ll be able to show off what he has to offer. He comes a few years younger than the Hammer and at least $6 million cheaper, in addition to possessing multiple years of team control. He’s potentially the most intriguing piece of the Hanrahan package, so we’ll see if the Pirates got a bargain in Melancon.

[quote_box author=”Ray Searage” profession=”Pirates’ Pitching Coach”]“I said, ‘Dude, whatever you ate today, make sure you eat it the rest of the year. Because you’re on.’ … The fastball is there. It’s got good angle and carry to it. He was spotting up the cutter. The curveball was real, real good. All he’s got to do is trust his stuff … easier said than done, I know.” [/quote_box]

Go Bucs

Joel Hanrahan suits up for Boston

The Red Sox played Northeastern University today in a scrimmage, and former Bucco Joel Hanrahan started on the hill for Boston. He tossed the unofficial first pitch of the year:

He threw 17 pitches, 13 for strikes, and struck out two batters. Here’s what David Ross had to say about the Hammer’s performance:

[quote_box author=”David Ross” profession=”Red Sox Catcher”]“Joel really looked good. I thought Joel’s ball was down, and his fastball was really jumping out of his hand. Early on you don’t want to do anything to speed up the college guys’ bats, but you also want to get work in. It’s kind of a tough thing calling a guy like that, but I thought Joel looked really nice.”[/quote_box]

A quote from Hanrahan, via NESN’s Jenny Dell:

Former FSN Pittsburgh personality Trenni Kusnierek, currently working with CSN New England, provides the classic small-market-to-big-market scenario:

Mike Petraglia of WEEI captured some footage of Hanrahan’s inning of work:

It’s going to be weird seeing Hanrahan, a Bucco fan-favorite, pitching for the Red Sox in 2013. We’ll definitely miss his ninth inning entrance:

Best of luck to him in Beantown.

Jason Grilli takes over the closing duty for the Pirates; there’s only “Jason Grilli” (39) days until Opening Day.

Pirates’ Spring Training Schedule

Clint Hurdle speaks with the media after the first spring workout on Tuesday afternoon. (Photo courtesy @Pirates on Twitter)

With spring training officially underway, it’s time to look forward to the Bucs’ first exhibition game. The opening matchup of the spring comes on Saturday, February 23rd when a split squad will take on the Tampa Bay Rays at 1:05 pm. Here’s a look at their entire Grapefruit League slate:

Sat, Feb 23, 2013
Pirates @ Rays 1:05 PM
Sun,   Feb 24, 2013 Braves @ Pirates 1:05 PM
Mon,   Feb 25, 2013 Pirates @ Twins 1:05 PM
Tue,   Feb 26, 2013 Orioles @ Pirates 1:05 PM
Wed,   Feb 27, 2013 Rays @ Pirates 1:05 PM
Thu,   Feb 28, 2013 Red Sox @ Pirates 1:05 PM
Fri,   Mar 01, 2013 Pirates @ Orioles 1:05 PM
Fri,   Mar 01, 2013 Pirates @ Red Sox 7:05 PM
Sat,   Mar 02, 2013 Pirates @ Tigers 1:05 PM
Sun,   Mar 03, 2013 Astros @ Pirates 1:05 PM
Mon,   Mar 04, 2013 Phillies @ Pirates 1:05 PM
Tue,   Mar 05, 2013 Spain @ Pirates 1:05 PM
Wed,   Mar 06, 2013 Pirates @ Red Sox 1:35 PM
Thu,   Mar 07, 2013 Rays @ Pirates 1:05 PM
Fri,   Mar 08, 2013 Orioles @ Pirates 7:05 PM
Sat,   Mar 09, 2013 Twins @ Pirates 1:05 PM
Sun,   Mar 10, 2013 Pirates @ Orioles 1:05 PM
Sun,   Mar 10, 2013 Pirates @ Twins 1:05 PM
Mon,   Mar 11, 2013 Orioles @ Pirates 1:05 PM
Wed,   Mar 13, 2013 Blue Jays @ Pirates 1:05 PM
Thu,   Mar 14, 2013 Pirates @ Phillies 1:05 PM
Fri,   Mar 15, 2013 Pirates @ Astros 1:05 PM
Sat,   Mar 16, 2013 Pirates @ Twins 1:05 PM
Sun,   Mar 17, 2013 Yankees @ Pirates 1:05 PM
Mon,   Mar 18, 2013 Red Sox @ Pirates 1:05 PM
Wed,   Mar 20, 2013 Pirates @ Braves 1:05 PM
Thu,   Mar 21, 2013 Pirates @ Orioles 7:05 PM
Fri,   Mar 22, 2013 Rays @ Pirates 1:05 PM
Sat,   Mar 23, 2013 Pirates @ Red Sox 1:35 PM
Sun,   Mar 24, 2013 Orioles @ Pirates 1:05 PM
Mon,   Mar 25, 2013 Pirates @ Rays 7:05 PM
Tue,   Mar 26, 2013 Pirates @ Blue Jays 1:05 PM
Wed,   Mar 27, 2013 Twins @ Pirates 1:05 PM
Thu,   Mar 28, 2013 Pirates @ Yankees 1:05 PM
Sat,   Mar 30, 2013 Pirates @ Curve 2:05 PM


– The Pirates will see Joel Hanrahan in a Red Sox uniform at McKechnie Field on the last day of February. They play the Sox again the next day; they’ll face them March 6th, 18th, and 23rd as well.
– The Bucs will take on the Spain national team at McKechnie on March 5th.
– They wrap up spring training with an exhibition matchup against the Class AA affiliate Altoona Curve.

Go Bucs

Pirates Playback 2/11/13

The sixth edition of Pirates Playback will be on ROOT Sports tonight at 7:00 pm. It will be shown again on Thursday night at 10:00 pm.

Tonight’s game: May 21st, 2012 when the Bucs beat Johan Santana and the Mets, 5-4. The Pirates were down 4-0 early, but battled back to beat New York. From our recap:

“Two batters later, Clint Barmes hit a shallow fly ball to right.  Walker tagged and scored, just beating the tag on a play that was reminiscent of the 1992 NLCS.  Joel Hanrahan shut the door in the ninth, getting into double digits in saves.  Bucs win 5-4.”

Neil Walker scoring the go-ahead run.

A special edition of Inside Pirates Baseball featuring Andrew McCutchen will air before Pirates Playback at 6:30.

49 days until Opening Day.

Go Bucs