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Right-handed relief prospect, Mark Melancon, previously hailed as Mariano Rivera’s successor because of his live heater and hard curve, tossed 16 1/3 innings last season posting a 3.86 ERA. A closer look at his numbers indicates a much weaker performance than his ERA suggests, however, as Melancon walked 5.51 batters per nine and only struck out an identical 5.51 batters per nine, leading to a 4.44 FIP. Not too impressive, right? This was obviously an extremely small sample though, a mere handful of nervous rookie innings that were atypical of the work Melancon had done while in the minor leagues. With just over 150 innings pitched in the Yankees’ farm system, the confident righty boasts a 2.54 ERA and a 0.906 WHIP, numbers which are understandable given his dominant minor-league peripherals (9.2 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9). Basically, down on the farm, he has been as effective as anyone could have hoped.

And so, I wonder, what will happen to Melancon this season? I definitely expect to see him, at some point, and believe he would be a tremendous asset to the team’s relief corps. Yet, with an already crowded bullpen, it seems the soon-to-be 25-year old will be slated for Scranton for most of the year, although someone could certainly falter or experience an injury that would alter such an outcome. CHONE projects Melancon to post a 4.42 FIP this season and Marcel sees a 4.23 FIP, but, given his legitimate success in the minors, his stuff, and his makeup, I’m inclined to believe FanGraphs’ fan projection, which forecasts the Colorado native as a 3.33 FIP pitcher with stellar peripherals. So far this spring, Melancon has appeared in 2 games, giving up 2 hits and striking out 3 over 2 2/3 innings pitched.

It’s a shame we won’t see Melancon more this season, but, I guess that is a testament to the team’s bullpen depth.

Photo by the AP

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