If you lost track of Mark Melancon after his 15 games with the Yankees, his spot on the National League All-Star team might be stunning. Despite coming through the Yankees system as a highly touted reliever — one of those prospects occasionally touted as the heir to Mariano Rivera — Melancon never really emerged with the Yankees. He walked too many, didn’t strike out enough.
This season, he’s been the Pirates setup man, with only four walks and 46 strikeouts through 44.1 innings.
“I think I have a little experience under my belt, which helps,” Melancon said. “I’m really locating a lot better, and part of that is some mechanics stuff. I really got some great help this year in spring training. Sometimes when you get to the big leagues people expect you and think you know everything, and that’s not always the case. For the second time out of four teams, I’ve really, really advanced my knowledge of pitching and it’s been fun to go in and sit and watch video and really cut to different points in the delivery and really know my delivery so well. When I’m out there, I’m fine-tuning constantly. It’s a lot of fun. It’s just amazing how much that knowledge helps while you’re out in between the lines.”
Was Melancon not ready or able to learn those sort of details and make those sort of adjustments with the Yankees?
“I felt prepared; I felt equipped,” he said. “I just think the leash is so much shorter that you don’t get an opportunity to go through a struggle or two. Sometimes that can be rough on confidence or just physically in general, you don’t feel like people have your back. And that’s not the case — and I knew that wasn’t the case — but I think given a little more time, you’d see the same results. It’s just you don’t get the same results (right away), and I understand that and I appreciate that. That’s why we won a World Series in 2009 is because of that attitude and I wouldn’t want it any other way, to be honest.”
Associated Press photo