Nation STATion: Nine on Melancon

Nation STATion: Nine on Melancon
December 15, 2011, 9:34 pm
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If Mark Melancon becomes the Red Sox closer he will be a very different type of closer than what Red Sox Nation is used to.

Melancon threw 1121 pitches last season and batters hit .234. Off his 461 fastballs, batters hit .317. Off his 299 curveballs they only hit .138, and off his 260 cutters they hit .200. Compare this to Jonathan Papelbon who threw 1001 pitches last season and batters hit .207. Off his 751 fastballs, batters hit .200. Off his 144 splitters they hit .220, and off his 101 sliders they hit .240.

Here are nine more nuggets on Melancon:

1.Mark Melancon was 8-4 last season, 4-2 against teams with less than .500 record, and 4-2 against teams at .500 and above. The big difference however is that his ERA against the less than .500 teams was 1.30, but his ERA against teams .500 and above was 4.68.

2.Melancon pitched in seven interleague games with a 1-1 record and an 8.64 ERA. He went 0-1 against the Sox and allowed one run in one inning on one hit and three walks. He was 1-0 against Texas but had a 5.40 ERA in three games.

3.Melancon appeared in 21 games on no days rest and was effective (2.05 ERA). In his 17 times when pitching on one days rest he had a sterling 1.45 ERA. On two days rest he was less sharp and had a 2.40 ERA. With three days rest he had a 5.91 ERA.

4.With runners in scoring position Melancon held batters to a .197 batting average, RISP w 2 outs batters only hit .189.

5.Righties hit .228 against Melancon with a .581 OPS; lefties hit .243 with a .704 OPS.

6.Melancon became more accustomed to his role as the season progressed. Prior to the All-Star break he had a 3.07 ERA and a .248 Batting Average Against. After the break his ERA was 2.43 with a .215 BAA.

7.Melancon threw 1,121 pitches last season; he had thrown 603 major league pitches in 2009-10 combined.

8.In 2011, batters swung at 45.3 percent of Melancons fastballs and missed on 18.2 percent of them. Melancon is most effective on his curve with batters swinging at 47.2 percent of them and missing on 39.0 percent.

9.When Melancon is pitching effectively he is forcing grounders. He struck out 66 of the 309 hitters he faced and gave up 122 grounders with batters getting 23 hits (.189). Batters were 12-for 43 on fly balls (.279) and 28-for-39 on line drives (.718). He only produced six pop-ups.

You can draw whatever conclusions you like from these numbers, but my feeling is that making him the closer in the AL East is a huge leap from pitching in the desolation and desperation of Houston last season. Melancon feels like a complimentary piece to the bullpen puzzle, but not the solution -- at least at this time. However, I think as a seventh or eighth inning guy, Melancon could shine. I look forward to your comments.