Back on December 14, the Boston Red Sox were tentatively closer-free. Their homegrown closer, Jonathan Papelbon, left for a ton of money. The next pitcher on the bullpen depth chart was Daniel Bard, and the team had designs on him in the starting rotation. So the Sox did a completely natural thing: They traded for another team's closer.
For a couple of weeks, Mark Melancon was the club's de facto closer. There were rumblings that the Red Sox were going to make another deal, and that Melancon would probably be a setup man, but for a short time, Melancon seemed like the No. 1 option.
And he could close again for the Red Sox real soon. The Pawtucket Red Sox. From CSNNE.com:
When it was noted to Valentine that Melancon has options remaining, Valentine wouldn't rule out a trip to the minors to get the reliever straightened out.
"At this point," said Valentine, "you have to consider everything."
Melancon was fantastic for the Houston Astros last year, but in four games this year, he has a 49.50 ERA, allowing 11 runs in two innings.
In four games this year, Melancon has a 49.50 ERA, allowing 11 runs in two innings. That isn't an editing error, putting that in twice. That's just, hell, let's do it again.
In four games this year, Melancon has a 49.50 ERA, allowing 11 runs in two innings. Amazing. And did we mention the other stuff? Ten hits, two walks, a wild pitch and, wait for it, five home runs. That's as many as he allowed in 74 innings last year. That's as many as John Axford has allowed in his career. Of course, advanced statistics suggest Melancon is better than this. His xFIP is only 10.48.
The article notes that when Melancon was told about Valentine's comment, the pitcher was "caught off guard," but that's the kind of start to a season that will make a manager tell reporters that he's considering all of his options. And it's not like he's progressively showing signs of improvement. Here's the log from Melancon's last game:
Ian Kinsler - Double to LF
Elvis Andrus - Walk
Josh Hamilton - Home Run to RF
Adrian Beltre - Home Run to CF
David Murphy - Walk
Nelson Cruz - Home Run to LF
There should be be a prize for allowing home runs to all fields in the same inning. Other than the bus ticket to Pawtucket. Which could be coming anyway.
It's still ridiculously early. Shelley Duncan is leading the AL in on-base percentage. CC Sabathia, Zack Greinke, Tim Lincecum, Mat Latos, and Jon Lester all have ERAs over 5.50. Still ridiculously early. But when a reliever is this bad, this early, the manager will consider all of his options. And one of Valentine's options: options.