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.

Report: Mets sign Brad Brach to one-year, $850,000 contract

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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mets and free agent reliever Brad Brach have agreed on a one-year deal worth $850,000. The contract includes a player option for the 2021 season with a base salary of $1.25 million and additional performance incentives.

Brach, 33, signed as a free agent with the Cubs this past February. After posting an ugly 6.13 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the Cubs released him in early August. The Mets picked him up shortly thereafter. Brach’s performance improved, limiting opposing hitters to six runs on 15 hits and three walks with 15 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings through the end of the season.

While Brach will add some much-needed depth to the Mets’ bullpen, his walk rate has been going in the wrong direction for the last three seasons. It went from eight percent in 2016 to 9.5, 9.7, and 12.8 percent from 2017-19. Needless to say the Mets are hoping that trend starts heading in the other direction next season.