Mark Melancon and Andrew Bailey were supposed to fix a Red Sox bullpen that had just lost one of its only real assets in Jonathan Papelbon. Instead, Andrew Bailey quickly made his way to the disabled list, and after four disastrous appearances Mark Melancon found his way to Triple-A.
It was ugly.
There are times when a pitcher just gets hit. Batters manage to take decent pitches and get good contact on them, or some calls go the wrong way and all of a sudden a good pitcher is made to look bad. This was not the case with Mark Melancon. Instead, Melancon went from being a good pitcher in Houston, to being one of the worst pitchers to ever take the mound in Boston. His offerings were flat, they were in the wrong locations, and by the end of his six-run, zero-out night against Texas on April 17, his name had become synonymous with a bad outing.
1. A unit of measurement equivalent to six runs allowed in a standard middle relief outing.
"Man, we were killing the Indians before Johnson went out there and gave up a Melancon."
After a month and a half in Triple-A, Melancon did manage to provide a few decent outings, but both July and August saw him back above a 6.00 ERA.
If there's any hope for Melancon, it comes from the last 10 innings he pitched. He allowed just the one earned run with 13 strikeouts, one walk, and four hits spanning the last month of the season. If you're skeptical that's going to continue, though, you've got plenty of reason to be given the rest of the year.
Even if those results are real, though, they're real in the context of a lost season. Melancon, you may remember, started his career with struggles in New York. If he's not the sort of guy who deals well in the A.L. East or with the pressure of contention, then ten innings for a team clearly out of the race are not terribly convincing.
Melancon remains cheap, and so will almost certainly find himself right back in the bullpen for 2013, even though it's a crowded unit at this point. One more season like the last, though, and the Sox probably won't hesitate any more to cut their losses and let him go.