Archive for Mark Melancon
At 51-37, with the third best record in baseball, leading the Wild Card and just three games back in the AL East, the Yankees had a fine first half. Yet it was a tumultuous three months, wrought with streaks and injuries and strange trends, causing mass panic at times among Yankees fans. Over the extended All-Star Break, we’ll go over each position to see what went right, what went wrong, and how things look for the second half. First up we looked at the starting pitching, now it’s time to take a look at the relievers.
The 2008 bullpen was one of the best in the business – ranking second in baseball in both FIP (3.82) and K/9 (8.66) – and the relief corps was expected to approximate that performance in 2009. The cast of characters was essentially unchanged, save a contract extension to southpaw Damaso Marte. Brian Bruney was set to join him as the primary bridge to Mariano Rivera, while rookie Phil Coke was primed to assume a key role. The rest of the pen was going to be filled out by a series of interchangeable parts, including Edwar Ramirez, Jose Veras, Jon Albaladejo, and David Robertson.
The results so far have been a mixed bag. The bullpen was dreadful in April, better in May, and flat out dominant in June. They currently rank second in the majors with a 1.26 WHIP (just one baserunner every 100 IP out of the league lead), yet their ERA (4.19) is just 22nd best in the game. The relievers have thrown the fourth-most innings in the American League, a number that has to come down to avoid a second half burnout. That burden falls on the starting rotation, however.
The bullpen’s revival is the result of the the massive turnover in personnel from April to June. Let’s touch on the major pieces.
Coming off a fairly major shoulder surgery, Mariano has been as fantastic as ever in 2009. Of course he did experience a rough go of it early after giving up some homers, but since May 21st he’s posted a 1.86 ERA and a 0.67 WHIP. Mo’s 14.33 K/BB is far and away the best in the game (next best is Scott Downs’ 8.06 mark) and the best of his Hall of Fame career. It took a little longer than usual, but Mo’s in midseason form and is as good as ever. He’s the least of the team’s concerns right now.
Brian Bruney & Damaso Marte
Bruney came out of the gate pitching like a man on a mission, out to prove all the B-Jobbers wrong about the lack of a solid 8th inning option. He struck out 12 and allowed just three hits over his first nine appearances, but went down with an elbow injury in late April. After being out for four weeks, Bruney lied about being healthy and came back too soon, ultimately landing himself back on the disabled list for another four weeks. He’s been nothing short of terrible since returning, allowing opponents to tattoo him for a .930 OPS. Right now, he’s a part of the problem and not the solution.
Marte’s season is just 5.1 ugly innings long, as a shoulder injury has shelved him since late April. When he was on the mound he was terrible, but how much of that is because of the injury we’ll never know. Currently rehabbing in Tampa, there’s still no timetable for his return.
Phil Coke & Phil Hughes
After a dynamite showing last September, Coke looked like he was poised to become the shutdown lefty reliever the Yanks have lacked for years. Coke’s overall numbers are rock solid, as are his splits against lefties, but his season has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. He was very good in April, pretty terrible in May, but fantastic since June rolled around. The only member of the bullpen to stick on the 25-man active roster all season besides Mariano Rivera, it’s no stretch to call Coke the Yanks’ second most reliable reliever of 2009.
The other half of Michael Kay’s stupid little Philthys Club, Hughes moved into the bullpen after Chien-Ming Wang appeared ready to become an effective starter once again, and has done nothing but dominate. His numbers out of the bullpen (18.1 IP, 0.65 WHIP, .379 OPS against) are better than Joba Chamberlain‘s first 18.1 innings of relief in 2007 (0.82 WHIP, .467 OPS against), more evidence that if you put a good starter in the bullpen he’d be a damn good reliever. There’s not much to say here, Phil Hughes the Reliever has been tremendous.
Al Aceves & David Robertson
The dramatic turnaround of the bullpen coincides with Aceves’ recall from the minor leagues. His 40 innings of stellar relief work have been just what the doctor ordered, as he’s pitched in every role and succeeded in every situation. Robertson has had his moments, mostly in low leverage spots, but he’s been an effective super-high strikeout arm that can go multiple innings if need be. He’s been pretty much everything you could want your fifth best reliever to be.
Jon Albaladejo, Edwar Ramirez, Brett Tomko & Jose Veras
Edwar and Veras were two stalwarts in last year’s pen, providing rock-solid middle relief all summer. This year was a different story, as the two combined to allow 28 runs and 70 baserunners in 43 IP. Edwar soon found himself back in Triple-A while Veras found himself with the Indians after being designated for assignment. Albaladejo has been up and down while Tomko was mostly down, but both guys have mostly acted as the last man out of the pen. Neither has been great nor horrible, they’re just kind of there.
The Up and Down Crew
Anthony Claggett was terrible in his one outing and doesn’t figure to be back up anytime soon. Stephen Jackson didn’t even manage to get into the game in his eight days on the big league roster before ending up in Pittsburgh. Mark Melancon has been meh in his limited showings. Zach Kroenke, Romulo Sanchez, Amaury Sanit and others are stashed away in the minors awaiting their turn.
Expectations for the second half
With the success the bullpen has experienced over the last month or so, it’s tough not to be optimistic about the second half. However, a key piece in Hughes or Aceves (or both if it comes to it) could be lost if their services are needed in the rotation. Don’t be surprised if the team seeks out another relief arm at this year’s trade deadline. Regardless, the Yankees will need the bullpen to do the job consistently in the second half if they plan on making the postseason.
After the Yanks’ victory-by-bullpen over the Twins this afternoon, Joe Girardi hinted that he would ask Brian Cashman for some bullpen relief. The Yankees have obliged, and as Chad Jennings reports, Mark Melancon will rejoin the Big League club in Anaheim. No word yet on the corresponding move, but assume it will be either David Robertson or Jonathan Albaladejo. More on this after Mike’s DotF post.
We expected the Yankees to make a number of roster moves today, and via RotoWorld we find the first of them (you might have to scroll down, depending on when you see this). On the ledger now: Melancon down, Molina disabled, Cash up. With two players removed from the 25-man roster, that leaves one for A-Rod. However, purchasing Kevin Cash’s requires a 40-man roster move. That will more than likely be the DFAing of Angel Berroa, which would open up yet another 25-man spot. Here’s to hoping that Juan Miranda gets the call to deepen the bench a bit. He’d be valuable as a PH with two backup catchers on the roster.
It’s easy for us to overhype the Yanks’ prospects. We want every young kid to be the second coming of Derek Jeter or Bernie Williams, but more often than not, these youngsters end up being the fiftieth coming of Ricky Ledee. But this year might be different for the Yanks have a reliever earning a lot of pre-season buzz. As Chad Jennings writes, the Yanks are expecting big things out of Mark Melancon this year, and they view the 23-year-old as the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera. Those are some lofty expectations for a pitcher with just 20 AAA innings under his belt, but he sounds as though he’s up for the challenge.
Mark Melancon | RHP
Melancon was born in Wheat Ridge, CO and grew up in nearby Golden, just outside of Denver. He attended Golden High School, where he lettered all four years in baseball and basketball and three times in football. He helped capture the National Championship in baseball, winning the clinching game after doubling off Ian Kennedy earlier in the double elimination tournament. Melancon was named to the All-State Team twice in his career (as well as twice in football and once in basketball) and graduated as a member of the National Honors Society.
Despite being rated the third best prospect in the state by Baseball America, Melancon was not a major prospect for the 2003 Draft. The Dodgers grabbed him the 30th round, adding him to a haul that included Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp, Russ Martin and Andy LaRoche. Melancon didn’t sign, instead following through on his commitment to The University of Arizona.
If you keep up with the Yanks minor league system, you’re probably up to date on the group of pitchers coming off elbow surgery. In case you’re not, Lisa Winston has an update at the official site on Andrew Brackman, Humberto Sanchez, Mark Melancon, and J.B. Cox.
First up, Mark Newman talks up Brackman and Cox.
“His velocity was between 94-97 [mph], so he had no problems and he’s ready to go for Major League camp,” said Mark Newman, the Yankees’ senior vice president of baseball operations. “His stuff is outstanding, and he’s getting a feel for his delivery and throwing strikes. But first and foremost, he was healthy and, at times, dominant.”
“The benefits are the power and deception because the ball is released closer to the plate,” Newman explained. “But the downside is you have long levers to manage, and it takes time. There aren’t many of those guys in the environment to use as test cases, but most people believe that taller guys take a little longer to get their command.”
I’m stoked to watch Brackman work through the season. He hasn’t pitched a season nearly as long as that of High-A Tampa, which is where Mike thinks he’ll start out. I’m guessing he’ll throw something around 100 innings before shutting it down.
Bonus: The Yanks beat some long odds in drafting Brackman.
“He’s fine,” Newman said. “He’s just been out for a year and got to the point in terms of his innings where we didn’t want to overload him. We consider those guys ‘rehabs’ for a full year.”
What I find strangest about Cox is that no team took him in the Rule 5 draft. The Padres took freaking Ian Nova. He’s two years out of elbow surgery, so there aren’t any excuses this year. Here’s to a healthy 2008 for J. Brent.
Humberto Sanchez on himself:
“I feel pretty good, but honestly, I forgot what 100 percent feels like,” he joked from Arizona, where he was enjoying a few hours off watching his beloved New York Giants. “I feel as good as I can going into Spring Training, and being out here has helped a lot. Along with the conditioning and fitness work, we’ve also been doing what we call ‘prehab’ to try to prevent injuries.”
Humberto was pretty damn terrible in the AzFL. He issued 11 walks, gave up 21 hits, and allowed 16 earned runs in just 12 innings. Oh yeah, and just four strikeouts. He has plenty to prove this year. It looks like the Yanks have already moved him to the bullpen, but I think you have to give him this one last chance to head into the season as a starter.
Winston provided no quotes on Mark Melancon, but she paid him a higher compliment. After rattling off his ridiculously awesome 2008 stats, she says this of the righty reliever:
But whether he starts the spring in New York or in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Melancon is probably the Yankees’ most promising heir to the throne of Mariano Rivera, both thanks to his stuff and his mound makeup.
Damn. Most promising heir to Mo. Talk about setting expectations high. Not that she’s wrong. Of all the relievers on the farm, Melancon is the most poised to make an impact. But the heir to Mo? Damn. Is that even possible to live up to?
“The game of baseball is challenging,” [Melancon] said. “It’s really the game, it’s not the opponents. It’s getting strike one. It’s getting the first out. It’s throwing to the glove. Obviously I’m giving respect to the hitters but at the same time, if you locate the ball it really does not matter who’s up there. You know, sometimes guys are going to get a good pitch and hit it far, but you can’t worry about that. You have to worry about what you can control, and that’s throwing my pitches well.”
I mean, wow. Could he have said it any better?
We’ve been hearing how great Melancon’s makeup is since he was drafted, and that quote shows it. The 23-yr old from Colorado has come back from Tommy John surgery better than anyone could have expected, and has put himself in a position to be a factor out of the Yanks’ pen as soon as next April. He’ll be a fan favorite rather quickly.
We’ve all heard about Mark Melancon. We know he’s one of our Tommy John Rehab Watch guys, and we know that the buzz is growing surrounding Melancon. We heard he could be the next eighth inning guy for the Yanks and a possible replacement for Mariano Rivera when that time finally comes. But just who is Mark Melancon? Today, Tyler Kepner answers that question in a profile on the 23-year-old. Check it out.
We have some resolution to the Amazing Disappearing Mark Melancon Box Score situation.
As Mike noted in last night’s inauguraul Down on the Farm, Mark Melancon appeared in the MiLB.com Tampa Yankees box score last night, but the young pitcher did not throw a pitch. Considering the hype surrounding Melancon and the fact that he’s one of our Tommy John pitchers, we were worried.
Yankee fans flew into a panic! What happened to Melancon? The guys on NYYFans.com couldn’t figure it out; Chad Jennings had no leads. It was an information black out. And then Yankees1010 rode to the rescue, directing us to this Saberscouting post:
Mark Melancon is not hurt. He didn’t enter the game after throwing warmup pitches (that I took video of and analyzed like the Zapruder film), because T-Yanks Manager Luis Sojo forgot to put him on the roster. Just a simple brain fart. Don’t feel bad for freaking out though Yankee fans, until the game ended and this was figured out, Yankee brass in the stands were in a state of panic as well.
Way to be, Luis. Way to be. Don’t scare us like that.