Arvada native now an all-star Pirates closer

Arvada native had 51 saves last season for playoff team

Posted 3/29/16

Bradenton, Florida – Arvada native Mark Melancon pitched for the New York Yankees, Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox before he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to the 2013 season.

To say that his career has taken off since then would be an …

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Arvada native now an all-star Pirates closer

Arvada native had 51 saves last season for playoff team

Posted

Bradenton, Florida – Arvada native Mark Melancon pitched for the New York Yankees, Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox before he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to the 2013 season.

To say that his career has taken off since then would be an understatement. The Golden High School graduate became an All-Star for the first time at the major league level in 2013 and has been part of tours to South Africa and Japan since he joined the Pirates.

Last season the right-handed closer had an amazing 51 saves in 53 opportunities for the Pirates, who were 98-64 and played in the National League Wild Card game in the playoffs. He was named to his second All-Star team in the National League last year.

“I am living my childhood dream so you can’t beat that,” said Melancon, standing in the spring training clubhouse of the Pirates before a recent game against the Baltimore Orioles. “There is a lot of work that goes into it but it does not feel like work. I have been fortunate to have great teachers/coaches, along the way and a great family that has supported me all of the way through. It is pretty neat.”

What was it like to be a Major League All-Star?

“The first time it was really cool,” he said. “Then last year it was maybe even cooler … that you have proven yourself. I mean, it is special. It is something that can’t be taken away.”

Melancon, who still has family living in Aravada, was 3-2 with an ERA of 1.39 in 72 games and 16 saves with the Pirates in 2013. The following year he was 3-5, 1.90 in 72 games with 33 saves.

Last season he was 3-2 with an ERA of 2.23 in 78 games while allowing just 57 hits in 76 and two-thirds innings with 62 strikeouts and just 14 walks.

In his major league career he is 19-16 with 121 saves. The Colorado native said it takes a unique ability to be a closer.

“I do think it is a different mentality. It is just a different switch that has to turn on,” he said. “I was able to close in college quite a bit. I was one of the few relievers that was drafted as a reliever so I have worked my whole way up.”

Melancon was drafted by the New York Yankees out of the University of Arizona in the ninth round in 2006 and made his big league debut with the club in 2009.

He was traded to Houston during the 2010 season and then traded to Boston after the 2011 campaign. On Dec. 26, 2012 he was traded by the Red Sox to the Pirates in a multi-player deal.

Melancon avoided arbitration and signed with the Pirates after last season and did not allow a run in his first five outings this spring training.

“We went into the offseason thinking Mark would be a part of the bullpen until somebody compelled us to think differently,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington told reporters in March. “No one did.”

The GHS product feels relievers work best when they know their role – such as what inning that could pitch.

“I do think it is good,” he said. “When you are going every night you have to be alert 162 games. It is stressful. When there is some routine or some sort of constant in a crazy world it helps.”

Melancon and the Pirates benefit from the fielding of shortstop Jordy Mercer, who grew up in Oklahoma and was drafted by Pittsburgh in 2008 out of Oklahoma State.

“He is going to make the routine play, that is for sure,” said Melancon, who turns 31 on March 28. “I feel like he could get on the bump (mound) and pitch if we needed him to. He has a great arm; he is just gifted. He is a big shortstop, and a great guy off the field. You feel comfortable with him in there.”

The Pirates can say the same about their closer.

Melancon, Pirates, baseball, Arvada, Golden High School

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