It's Coming Together For Melancon

Mark Melancon spent his first full professional season last year building up his arm strength, pitching more to location, and developing his changeup into another plus pitch. But now he's made improvements to his out-pitch, and even though it's just one week into the new season, it seems his game is coming together already.

It wasn't all that long ago that Mark Melancon posted a 7.69 ERA in six appearances for the Yankees in big league Spring Training and allowing nine hits in a little more than five innings.

"I guess I didn't put that much thought into Spring Training," he said. "I felt I had an idea that I'd be in Scranton. Mainly I just wanted to get my arm going and get all of pitches to where they needed to be by the beginning of the season.

"It wasn't that I was stressing about how many runs or how many hits I gave up, although obviously every time you go out that's your goal, for me it was just day by day getting closer to being ready for Opening Day."

Fast forward to the first week of the baseball season and Melancon has quickly righted the proverbial ship, tossing three straight scoreless relief appearances for the Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees and not allowing a hit until his third game.

"I feel really good," he said after picking up the win over Buffalo on Monday. "My curveball last year I didn't think was as strong as it could be.

"So in Spring Training, in the last few days of big league camp, Scotty Aldred – he's always trying to help me in any way, shape, or form – the curveball was the main thing I was targeting."

"We decided to change grips a little bit. I went to a knuckle-curve and right away when I started throwing it there was more depth to it.

"I just kept playing with it and working on it, and it's really improved. It's kind of what I had in college, so that's been a big help for me so far."

He didn't actually throw a knuckle-curveball in college, but he admits the break he has been getting on his new and improved curveball this season is similar to the one he had in college, as is its effectiveness as a strikeout weapon.

"Anytime you have a solid out-pitch, strikeouts come with that," Melancon said. "And good location – all of those things have to come together – first pitch strikes, and then a solid out-pitch. And then deception comes into play too. I think this curveball has really helped my strikeouts."

While he has piled up eleven strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings so far this season, Melancon says it's not due to any designed plan but rather the culmination of the hard work he put in during Spring Training.

"Even though I was throwing the knuckle-curve in Spring Training, I didn't have a great feel for it," he revealed. "It's really funny, in the opening game against Lehigh Valley it just kind of showed up. It was almost surprising how good it was. Now I realize what I've done to make it like that.

"It's just a shorter, quicker arm, which is what Nardi [Contreras], Scotty [Aldred], and everybody has told me, but sometimes you just have to feel that and realize exactly what it is you're doing to cause that to happen. It's hit me. Anytime now I have that checkpoint; do I have that short, quick arm? Am I staying on-top?"

Just like last year when he put his numbers on the back-burner so he could master his changeup, he once again put development at the forefront of his Spring Training goals this season over piling up statistics.

The end result has been a much more effective out-pitch so far this season, taking his already plus curveball to an entirely different level.

"I would say so," he opined. "Another thing that I'm starting to catch on to better than I had [last year] is getting a feel for hitters during at-bats and knowing what to go to next as the at-bat goes along."

Posting less than a strikeout per inning last season had some pundits questioning whether or not he had closer-stuff, but Melancon feels he can be the same pitcher he has been thus far this season in the big leagues someday.

"It's still me pitching out there. It's not like I'm having an out-of-body experience or anything. Just because my strikeouts have gone up in the last three games, it's not like I can go celebrate.

"I think I've found something with the curveball, but I still have to go out, compete, and I realize these [hitters] are putting in a day's work just like I am, so I can't lose concentration," he concluded.

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\r\n \r\n\r\nIt wasn't all that long ago that Mark Melancon posted a 7.69 ERA in six appearances for the Yankees in big league Spring Training and allowing nine hits in a little more than five innings.
\r\n
\r\n\"I guess I didn't put that much thought into Spring Training,\" he said. \"I felt I had an idea that I'd be in Scranton. Mainly I just wanted to get my arm going and get all of pitches to where they needed to be by the beginning of the season.
\r\n
\r\n\"It wasn't that I was stressing about how many runs or how many hits I gave up, although obviously every time you go out that's your goal, for me it was just day by day getting closer to being ready for Opening Day.\"
\r\n
\r\nFast forward to the first week of the baseball season and Melancon has quickly righted the proverbial ship, tossing three straight scoreless relief appearances for the Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees and not allowing a hit until his third game.
\r\n
\r\n\"I feel really good,\" he said after picking up the win over Buffalo on Monday. \"My curveball last year I didn't think was as strong as it could be.
\r\n
\r\n\"So in Spring Training, in the last few days of big league camp, Scotty Aldred – he's always trying to help me in any way, shape, or form – the curveball was the main thing I was targeting.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"We decided to change grips a little bit. I went to a knuckle-curve and right away when I started throwing it there was more depth to it.
\r\n
\r\n\"I just kept playing with it and working on it, and it's really improved. It's kind of what I had in college, so that's been a big help for me so far.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe didn't actually throw a knuckle-curveball in college, but he admits the break he has been getting on his new and improved curveball this season is similar to the one he had in college, as is its effectiveness as a strikeout weapon.
\r\n
\r\n\"Anytime you have a solid out-pitch, strikeouts come with that,\" Melancon said. \"And good location – all of those things have to come together – first pitch strikes, and then a solid out-pitch. And then deception comes into play too. I think this curveball has really helped my strikeouts.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile he has piled up eleven strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings so far this season, Melancon says it's not due to any designed plan but rather the culmination of the hard work he put in during Spring Training.
\r\n
\r\n\"Even though I was throwing the knuckle-curve in Spring Training, I didn't have a great feel for it,\" he revealed. \"It's really funny, in the opening game against Lehigh Valley it just kind of showed up. It was almost surprising how good it was. Now I realize what I've done to make it like that.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's just a shorter, quicker arm, which is what Nardi [Contreras], Scotty [Aldred], and everybody has told me, but sometimes you just have to feel that and realize exactly what it is you're doing to cause that to happen. It's hit me. Anytime now I have that checkpoint; do I have that short, quick arm? Am I staying on-top?\"
\r\n
\r\nJust like last year when he put his numbers on the back-burner so he could master his changeup, he once again put development at the forefront of his Spring Training goals this season over piling up statistics.
\r\n
\r\nThe end result has been a much more effective out-pitch so far this season, taking his already plus curveball to an entirely different level.
\r\n
\r\n\"I would say so,\" he opined. \"Another thing that I'm starting to catch on to better than I had [last year] is getting a feel for hitters during at-bats and knowing what to go to next as the at-bat goes along.\"
\r\n
\r\nPosting less than a strikeout per inning last season had some pundits questioning whether or not he had closer-stuff, but Melancon feels he can be the same pitcher he has been thus far this season in the big leagues someday.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's still me pitching out there. It's not like I'm having an out-of-body experience or anything. Just because my strikeouts have gone up in the last three games, it's not like I can go celebrate.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think I've found something with the curveball, but I still have to go out, compete, and I realize these [hitters] are putting in a day's work just like I am, so I can't lose concentration,\" he concluded.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

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