Padres Opening Day: Three bold predictions for the 2021 season

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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Mark Melancon / Padres
(Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images) /

Padres Opening Day: Mark Melancon flirts with Trevor Hoffman’s saves record

Only one San Diego Padres reliever has ever surpassed 50 saves in a season. It’s not like I have to tell you who that individual is. After all, he’s one of the greatest closers in baseball history.

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Back in 1998, Trevor Hoffman and the Padres ran roughshod through the Senior Circuit en route to the Fall Classic. The right-hander notched 53 saves on the year, making 66 appearances and working to a career-best 1.48 ERA. His efforts netted him a runner-up finish in NL Cy Young voting that year – although he and the Friars fell short of that World Series title.

This year, due largely in part to the people around him, I think Mark Melancon will make a run at Hoffman’s record. I know Jayce Tingler hasn’t named a closer. But when I look at the likes of Drew Pomeranz, Keone Kela, Emilio Pagan and Melancon, I see the first three being far more flexible than the latter.

Insert Melancon in the ninth (at least for the sake of this piece). With an offense poised to be one of the best in all of baseball and a starting rotation that, at least on paper, is capable of going toe-to-toe with any offense in baseball on any given night, he’s going to get plenty of save opportunities.

At that point, it’s up to the veteran right-hander, who has, it’s worth mentioning, eclipsed 50 saves in his career. Back in 2015 with Pittsburgh, Melancon notched 51 saves and followed it up with 47 a year later.