On Friday morning during the pre-FanFest media session, Mark Melancon told a quick story. Pence, Crawford and himself were in the car, and Pence and Crawford were talking about last season and some of the heartbreak involved. Melancon then looks at them and says, "No pressure on me then, huh?"
From the brief period of time that I was in the same room with the Giants new closer, the feeling I got was that he is going to fit extremely well in his new clubhouse. First and foremost, he's a professional. He takes care of his body and has lots of gadgets that provide info for him, from heart rate monitors to sleep patterns. He's also a relatively soft spoken guy, cracking jokes with just a touch more exuberance than Steven Wright (not the knuckleballer). He's also pretty darn good at his job.
Since 2013, Melancon has totaled 70 or more innings in each season and has a cumulative ERA of 1.80, a WHIP under 1.00, a walk rate of just 1.4 and a strikeout rate that may not be up there with some of the other top closers, but is still an impressive 8.3 per nine. So how does he remain this productive with a fastball that sits in the low 90s? "Consistency is my biggest thing. I pitch with angles. I pitch down in the zone. Location, movement, a little deception and a good plan."
So why the Giants? "Even going through this process of commercials with how organized everything is, it just kinda makes sense, ya know? [It shows] why they're such a winning organization." He also mentioned that the gold glove caliber infielders behind him played a huge role in the decision and that he's excited to call AT&T Park his new office.
With so many younger relievers expected to make the team out of spring training, leading to the late inning group of Strickland, Smith, Law and Melancon, the newest reliever said that he would love to act as a mentor to some of the greener guys. "I hope they take me up on that. To me it's a part of the everyday job. It's not just me teaching, but them teaching me as well."
Having an opportunity to throw to Buster Posey is not lost on Melancon. When asked what he thought of his new battery mate, the subtle sense of humor came out once more, "Buster? He's, uh...he's decent. Sign me up."
After limping into a playoff spot in 2016 and being bounced so suddenly in the NLDS, the Giants needed to rectify some of their shortcomings this winter. In signing Melancon, it appears that they have done just that with one of the best five closers in baseball. With his pinpoint control and already "limited" pitch speed, he may also age better than some of the other closers out there that throw high 90s. Signing Melancon was the most Giants thing the Giants could have Giants'd this winter, and in doing so they have hedged their bets for yet another postseason run. http://www.scout.com/mlb/giants/story/1754247-sf-giants-other-outfielder...
There will be question marks on this team. For the time being, it's how does the left field situation play out? Down the road we could be talking injuries and outfield depth as a whole. One of the questions that isn't likely to come up is who is going to close games for the Giants.
"I look at [the pressure] as an opportunity. It's a chance to fill something that is needed. For me, it's what I relish; it's what I enjoy. It's an opportunity for me to succeed."
If he succeeds, there's a really good chance the Giants will, too.