Full-time closer no more, Melancon still earns eventful save
PHOENIX -- On Friday, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo called right-hander Mark Melancon into his office, where he informed the 37-year-old that he was going to take him out of the closer's role and go with more of a closer-by-committee.
"He said he didn't like it, but he accepts it," Lovullo said.
One thing that Lovullo emphasized to Melancon was that he would be part of that closing committee and would still get his chances, depending on matchups and who was available in the bullpen that day.
On Sunday afternoon, with Ian Kennedy not available after pitching in consecutive games and lefty Joe Mantiply having pitched earlier in the game, Lovullo turned to Melancon in the ninth to lock down a 6-4 victory.
It wasn't easy, as the Rockies loaded the bases. But Melancon got the job done as the D-backs won the rubber game of the three-game set at Chase Field.
"It's just good to get a win," Melancon said.
Melancon was signed to a two-year, $14 million free agent deal during the offseason after an All-Star season with the Padres in which he had a 2.23 ERA and an NL-leading 39 saves.
This year, though, things have not been as smooth, with Melancon having suffered 10 losses with a 4.66 ERA heading into Sunday.
"I totally understand, and at the end of the day I’m looking to win a ballgame," Melancon said after receiving the news Friday. "I understand where he’s at. I haven’t performed the way I’ve wanted to. The results haven’t been there.
“We’re strong down there. Torey made it clear that I can get back in that role and be solidified there. Just to break it up and have a different look sometimes is good. I still think closing is where I have the most value, but right now I totally understand Torey and I agree with him. We need a different look right now, and that’s fine."
Melancon retired the first hitter he faced Sunday before issuing a walk and allowing a bloop single to left. A groundout moved the runners to second and third with two outs and brought a visit from pitching coach Brent Strom.
C.J. Cron was due up for the Rockies, and he has had his way with the D-backs this season. Already 2-for-4 on the day, he easily could have had a third hit if not for a diving catch by Daulton Varsho in right, Strom asked Melancon whether he wanted to intentionally walk Cron to get to Randal Grichuk.
Melancon elected to walk Cron and pitch to Grichuk. The move paid off when Grichuk grounded out to short to end the game.
Did Melancon experience a sigh of relief when the final out was made?
"Of course," Melancon said with a smile. "Literally, every out I get there's a sense of relief. And it's been like that my whole career. Every fly ball that goes up, my first thought is it's a home run. So it's just in my nature to kind of be pessimistic, I guess, in a good, healthy way.
“But, yeah, easy ground ball to the shortstop, that's a good feeling.”