by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Mark Melancon was already coming off a concerning, injury plagued season that saw him endure multiple stints on the DL. Even when he was on the field the numbers weren’t impressive, as he posted a 4.50 ERA, though a .374 BABIP and 70.4% strand rate helped to sabotage him. The underlying metrics remained strong, giving some optimism:
- Strikeouts – 8.70 K/9
- Control – 1.80 BB/9
- Groundballs – 52.7%
Things look different today than they did just a few days ago, after Alex Pavlovic tweeted:
“Mark Melancon hasn’t pitched since Friday and won’t tonight. He’s feeling something in arm still. Giants unsure if he’ll be ready for opening day.”
Forget about Opening Day, you have to wonder if these arm issues will linger throughout the season once again. Could he need a lengthy DL stint? Will he try to pitch injured, hindering his control and overall potential? It’s a murky situation, and fantasy owners need to be prepared to move forward without him. Who would that leave to step into the closer’s role? Let’s take a quick look at the candidates:
The man who stepped into the role last season, Dyson has endured a miserable spring as he’s allowed 4 HR over 8.0 innings (leading to an 11.25 ERA). Let’s not forget, while he was better during his time in San Francisco last season and converted 14-of-17 save opportunities, it’s not like he was overly impressive:
- Texas – 16.2 IP, 10.80 ERA, 2.58 WHIP, 3.78 K/9, 6.48 BB/9
- San Francisco – 38.0 IP, 4.03 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 6.39 K/9, 4.26 BB/9
Being better than bad doesn’t make you good, and he’s continued to struggle with his control this spring having walked 5 batters. Generally a groundball pitcher we can overlook the home runs, to an extent, but the control is a different story.
Dyson may get the first crack at the job, but he shouldn’t be viewed as a lock to run with it.
Verdict – Too risky to trust
In a lot of ways Watson is very similar to Dyson, having entered 2017 as the Pirates’ closer but pitching his way out of the role. That said, while he’s struggled this spring he still is coming off a season where he posted a 3.38 ERA. The problems are:
- He lacks a prototypical closer profile (7.16 K/9 in ’17)
- Has struggled with home runs (1.33 and 1.22 HR/9 the past two seasons)
- Is left-handed
The final one may be the most important, as the Giants may value him more as a matchup play as opposed to a pitcher locked into ninth inning duties.
Once viewed as the potential closer of the future, could the future be now? He’s had the best spring of the candidates, by far, with a 0.00 ERA, 8 K and 2 BB over 7.1 IP. Even better he’s been nearly unhittable, with just 1 H allowed.
That’s not to say that he’s a no-brainer, as he struggled to generate groundballs in ’17 (38.8%) and struggled with his control (4.26 BB/9). The latter is a little bit deceiving (5.17 BB/9 in the first half, 3.30 in the second half) and the former has never been an issue (0.60 HR/9 over 180.2 IP in the Majors). The bigger question is his split and if he’s better utilized as a matchup play (career slash):
- RHH – .196/.255/.292
- LHH – .266/.347/.377
If he can get left-handed hitters out he should run with the job, otherwise maybe he shares it with Watson. Regardless he has the highest upside of the three and should be in the mix, making him the best speculative waiver wire addition.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com
** ORDER ROTOPROFESSOR’S 2017 DRAFT GUIDE TODAY **
Order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $7.50!! Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings:
|Starting Pitchers||1-20: 03/24/18|