DT/CT: Feeling Melancon

Death Taxes and Closer Turnover episode 2.11

Apparently Brandon Lyon is experiencing some shoulder soreness. He’s also suffering from a bad case of suck-itis. While Lyon takes some time to figure things out, former Yankee prospect Mark Melancon looks like he’ll get a chance for some saves. Is he worth adding?

I remember watching Melancon pitch early in April and I was surprised at how good his stuff looked then. His ERA might lead some to think that he has been dominant thus far in 2011, but that hasn’t exactly been the case. Melancon has a 12/6 K/BB ratio in 15.2 innings, so he hasn’t excelled at striking batters out or keeping them off base via the walk. He’s also allowed 14 hits in those 15.2 innings. However, Melancon has done an outstanding job of keeping the ball on the ground (65.2 percent GB%).

When all is said and done, I think he has the upside to post an ERA around 3.00-3.50 with a WHIP that will neither hurt nor help your team.

The issue then becomes job security. When Lyon feels healthy again, will the Astros simply hand him his job back? I would hope not, but I’ve sort of lost faith in that organization’s ability to make such decisions. After all, they handed him a 3yr/$15M deal a year ago. Having him under contract the rest of this season and next season shouldn’t mean anything with regard to his “role” in the bullpen, but that sort of thing has happened in the past.

If the Astros are willing to go with their best option in the ninth — not that you should always use your best option in the ninth, but that’s another story — Melancon could very well fit the bill. However, along with Lyon, he’ll have competition in Wilton Lopez, who is returning from the DL (elbow).

If you have a chance to snag Mark Melancon, go ahead and do so. While he doens’t have a ton of upside, my gut tells me the job is his as long as he continues to keep opposing teams from scoring too often.