Diamondbacks shifting to closer by committee after Mark Melancon’s struggles
It has been a rough go for Arizona Diamondbacks closer Mark Melancon this season, something manager Torey Lovullo said he is “very well aware” of when he joined Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Friday.
Lovullo shortly after in his pregame press availability said the club will be shifting to a closer by committee approach, with Melancon, Ian Kennedy and Joe Mantiply among the names that will be considered each night.
“We’re gonna (go) back into a situation where we don’t have one closer at this point,” Lovullo said. “Had a discussion with Mark about making this move and he understood. He didn’t necessarily like it but he understood (it’s) for the good of the team. If it was a decision I was making then he was going to support it.
“For right now, it’ll be a fluid situation who it will be. It will be undetermined. It will mostly be matchup based.”
Lovullo reiterated that Melancon will still close some games but just won’t be the sole name in that spot anymore.
Kennedy received the ball for the D-backs’ last save situation in a 6-3 win over the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday and struck out the side.
This, however, came after Melancon pitched two straight days, so it still isn’t 100% clear if that was a full role change or just a one-time deal.
Melancon has already set the franchise record for most losses by a reliever with 10, besting the previous high of eight from Chad Qualls (2008) and Aaron Heilman (’10), per Baseball-Reference.
He has notoriously struggled this season in non-save situations when Lovullo has brought the righty in during a tie game.
That happened first on Sunday, with Melancon taking the loss against the Atlanta Braves by giving up a run in a 0-0 game for a ninth-inning walk-off.
Melancon then came in for a save opportunity in Cleveland one day later with a 5-4 lead over the Guardians in the 10th inning, only to give up a run to extend the game. From there, Melancon stayed in at a 5-5 scoreline for the following inning and lost in another walk-off situation.
With Melancon’s collapses noted, both he and Kennedy are tied for the team lead in blown saves at three apiece while Melancon’s 14 saves top Kennedy’s five. Mantiply is the only other D-back reliever with a save (2) and he’s also blown three of them.
Arizona, of course, invested in its bullpen this offseason with a two-year, $14 million contract for Melancon and then Kennedy as well on a one-year deal for up to $4.75 million.
The D-backs return to Chase Field with a 6:40 p.m. first pitch against the Colorado Rockies you can hear on 98.7 FM.