Pirates sticking with Mark Melancon at closer despite 8.53 ERA, drop in velocity

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Mark Melancon is throwing slower and throwing worse, but manager Clint Hurdle says the Pirates will stick with him in the closer role.

Melancon has allowed six runs in six innings–compared to his 1.65 ERA in 142 combined innings in 2013/2014–and his average fastball has clocked in at just 89 miles per hour.

Yet here’s what Hurdle told Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

For me it’d be an absolute overreaction, one blown save, to make a switch now. … For us it’s pitch execution as much as it is anything. I still believe that the velocity will get back to where we’ve seen it.

Hurdle and Melancon both insist they aren’t worried about the drop in velocity and perhaps they’re right that the missing miles per hour will return soon, but in the meantime the Pirates are trotting out a pitcher who’s clearly not at 100 percent in the highest-leverage spots.