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Mark Melancon 2016 Outlook

Mark Melancon, who recently signed a one-year $9.65 million dollar contract with the Pirates, nailed down a league-leading 51 saves for Pittsburgh in 2015. Melancon’s 51 saves were buoyed by a 2.23 ERA and .93 WHIP.

Unfortunately, Melancon’s ability to strike batters out diminished from 9.0 K/9 in 2014 to last year’s unimpressive 7.28 K/9. Notching only 62 Ks over 76.2 innings in 2015, the Pittsburgh closer’s tendency to induce ground balls, which is affirmed by a ground ball rate of 57% or better in each of his last three seasons, has helped him prevent homeruns. His .47 HR/9 in 2015, which was efficient but not phenomenal, is a far cry from the .13 HR/9 he posted in 2013 and .25 HR/9 he produced in 2014.

Melancon, whose fastball velocity decreased from 2014’s 92.5mph to 2015’s 91.3mph, will turn 32 in March. Melancon’s velocity dip and age suggest he won't return to a 9.0 K/9. The 51 saves he notched last season came during a career year and are highly unlikely to be replicated, which makes Melancon a borderline top ten closer for 2016. Tony Watson, the Pirates set-up man, is coming off consecutive sub-2.00 ERA seasons and would be first in line for saves should Melancon falter.