The San Diego Padres entered the year without a clear-cut closer. But after notching two saves in the first two games, the job clearly belongs to Mark Melancon.
That’s not to say other guys won’t get save opportunities. Jayce Tingler isn’t going to risk injuries – and regular days off will be part of the plan for Melancon and every other reliever in the San Diego bullpen. Even so, the veteran right-hander looks like he’ll be the go-to guy come the ninth inning this season.
"“He’s done it for a long time,” Tingler told MLB.com. “He’s done it 200-plus times. The experience plays a factor, the personality plays a factor. He’s able to control his heart rate. He’s a pitch-maker. He’s got weapons. And even on the days his stuff’s not A-plus sharp, he’s got the mindset to be able to will outs and get it done.”"
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Melancon has been perfect so far – and that’s one box the Padres’ skipper can check off when figuring out how to deploy his bullpen right now. As a group, San Diego relievers carry a 2.08 ERA after two games – with an impressive 10 strikeouts to zero walks in 8 2/3 innings of work.
Mark Melancon brings experience to Padres
For those not all that familiar with Melancon, he was part of those feared Pirates’ Shark Tank bullpens in the middle of the last decade and during one two-year span, ran of a staggering 97 saves at the back end of that group.
He’s got the experience that is unbelievably valuable to the Padres. The team isn’t particularly young, but winning is something that isn’t yet the norm for this franchise. Having a guy who doesn’t let any moment get too big and can put his head down and get the job done is going to be huge – especially in those big matchups against the Dodgers this year.
With the closer question seemingly answered, San Diego’s bullpen can fall into place with guys starting to figure out when to expect the ball. For Melancon, that means slamming the door in the ninth and locking down late leads.