We’re ready to close the book on April. Given the array of injuries the team’s faced, the Padres could have headed into May in a much more dire situation. They enter Friday’s opener against the Giants just 2 1/2 games out of first in the NL West.
Chasing the Dodgers in this division, there is no margin for error. Thankfully, San Diego has one of the game’s best closers in the game locking things down in Mark Melancon. Before the season started, I penned a piece with three bold predictions. Let’s circle back on that:
- Wil Myers pops 40 home runs during the 2021 season
- Fernando Tatis Jr. turns in a 35-35 season
- Mark Melancon flirts with Trevor Hoffman’s single-season saves record
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Let’s focus in on that third one. For those of you who may be unaware, during the incredible 1998 season, the San Diego Padres closer racked up a career-high 53 saves, finishing second in the NL Cy Young race. No Padres closer has seriously threatened that mark since – but Melancon might be poised to take that mark down.
Padres: Mark Melancon has been gold
Entering the final game of April, Melancon has eight saves. If he were to continue that pace – and average eight saves a month from here on out, he’d end the year at 48 saves, the second-most he’s ever tallied in a campaign. Don’t forget, back during his time with the Pirates, he notched 51 saves.
Heading into the season, Jayce Tingler hadn’t appointed a closer. But he went with Melancon out of the gates and hasn’t looked back. And, boy, has the veteran ever delivered.
In a dozen innings of work, the 36-year-old closer boasts an impressive 0.75 ERA, 1.34 FIP and 0.417 WHIP. He hasn’t allowed a home run, has induced plenty of weak contact and has been the stopper the team needs late in games.
It’s too soon to tell if Melancon has what it takes to dethrone Hoffman atop the franchise single-season saves leaderboard. But the early returns are promising and it’s eliminated one potential question for a team that’s yet to hit its stride.