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Melancon to take up mantle of Braves' closer

@cdenicola13
August 10, 2019

MIAMI -- Braves manager Brian Snitker's handling of the bullpen during Friday's 8-4 victory over the Marlins provided insight into how the latter innings will be handled moving forward, with Mark Melancon taking over closing duties from Shane Greene. With the Braves leading 6-1 in the eighth, righty Chris Martin

MIAMI -- Braves manager Brian Snitker's handling of the bullpen during Friday's 8-4 victory over the Marlins provided insight into how the latter innings will be handled moving forward, with Mark Melancon taking over closing duties from Shane Greene.

With the Braves leading 6-1 in the eighth, righty Chris Martin allowed three straight batters to reach with one out. After an RBI comebacker, Snitker turned to Greene, who gave up an RBI single before ending the three-run inning with a strikeout.

Melancon began warming up in the top of the ninth with Atlanta holding onto a two-run lead and a pinch-hitter due up. When Ronald Acuña Jr. knocked a two-run homer, it took away the save opportunity. According to Snitker, the original hope was for Martin to get through the eighth and then turn to Greene for the ninth.

"I think he's equipped to do it," Snitker said of Melancon. "We have a few guys we can run out there depending on the situation where we're at the night before. Things like that. I feel good with him out there."

Melancon, who saved a Major League-leading 51 games in 2015 for the Pirates, pitched in various situations for the Giants this season.

"Your focus level has to be off the charts," said Melancon, who has 183 saves in his 11-year career. "Every pitch is such a big pitch. You've got to be ready when you come through those gates. You have to be prepared.

"You've got to bear down. One of my thoughts after each out is, ‘I think I've got to work harder this out than I did the last.’ I'm that much closer, but step on the neck and be that much more focused, be that much more on the point. Just work that much harder to stay out of trouble instead of getting out of trouble."

How will Braves handle young arms?
During Thursday's media scrum, Anthopoulos addressed a variety of topics, including how prospects like Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson and Ian Anderson fit into the club's plans during the stretch run.

"I'll tell you this: We are committed to winning," Anthopoulos said. "I know every GM can say that, but we're going to go with the hot hand. We're taking the best 25. I didn't think we would option Mike Foltynewicz. [You saw what happened with] Adam Duvall, who had been an All-Star and [has had] back-to-back 30-homer seasons, and Austin Riley was playing the best down there. He got the callup. We have a responsibility to the 24, 25 guys that are here and the fan base and everything else.

"If we think someone gives us the best chance to win, we'll do it. We did it last year. You saw Bryse Wilson come up in a big start for us against the Pirates. We called [Mike] Soroka up May 1 against the Mets because he was the best guy. When you're not contending, you can look more from a development standpoint, you can give these guys more time, you can make other determinations. But with where we're at being a competitive club trying to get to the playoffs, we're going to go with the best guy, no matter who it is, no matter what the experience is. Whoever we feel gives us the best chance to win."

Christina De Nicola is a reporter and game producer for MLB.com based in Miami. Follow her on Twitter @CDeNicola13.