The Braves will install veteran righty Mark Melancon as their closer, manager Brian Snitker told reporters including Gabe Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter). He finished out tonight’s game, though it did not come in a save situation.
Melancon was one of three veteran relievers acquired by the Atlanta organization at the trade deadline. At the time, it did not seem terribly likely he’d receive a shot at ninth-inning work. Shane Greene took the inside track to the gig, with fellow newcomer Chris Martin and incumbent Luke Jackson also potentially in the mix.
Things have changed rather quickly. Greene and Martin have been shaky. The Braves don’t want to turn things back over to Jackson. And Melancon has been steady. It’s only a handful of outings, but the Atlanta org is obviously looking for a steadying presence. Perhaps it shouldn’t be seen as a surprise that the experienced late-inning hand has already grasped the reins.
Melancon hasn’t functioned as a steady closer since early in the 2017 season, but he has racked up 183 career saves. Though he has been more steady than dominant of late, carrying a 3.29 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 since the start of the 2018 season, the 34-year-old surely won’t be cowed by the prospect of handling the high-leverage spots.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Braves’ late-inning relief situation shakes out down the stretch. Snitker did not commit to permanently utilizing Melancon in the closer’s role, though he did indicate that the veteran will be trusted with the job for some time to come. The club is obviously willing to switch things up on the fly, but will presumably hope to settle into some kind of established approach before the postseason arrives.