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:
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_.
— Mark Melancon (@Mark_Melancon_) April 14, 2013