Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Melancon picked for All-Star team; Marte in Final Vote

July 5, 2016


ST. LOUIS — Over his first four seasons in the majors, Mark Melancon pitched in 147 games and posted a 20-save season.
But his career did not really begin to take off until he was traded to the Pirates in December 2012. On Tuesday, Melancon was named to the National League squad for the All-Star Game for this third time in four years.
“It's pretty cool,” Melancon said. “When I got here, (the Pirates) had just traded (Joel) Hanrahan, and it was like, ‘Who's this guy?' ”
Melancon is the only Pirate who was selected for the NL team. He also was picked in 2013 and 2015.
Outfielder Starling Marte is among five finalists for the Final Vote, which will select the last member of the All-Star team. Balloting will end Friday.
Brandon Belt of the San Francisco Giants, Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, Jake Lamb of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies are the other finalists.
Going into Tuesday's game, Marte ranked sixth in the NL with a .321 batting average and second with 24 stolen bases. He had with six homers, 31 RBIs and an .841 OPS.
“Starling is the best athlete I've played with, hands down,” Melancon said. “He's extremely talented. Sometimes, I don't know if he knows how talented he is. He's a ball of muscle who goes out there and competes.”
In 37 appearances, Melancon is 0-1 with 25 saves and a 1.31 ERA.
Over his past 20 outings, Melancon has not allowed a run and has collected 14 saves. His lone blown save came on April 24, when he yielded a game-tying, two-run homer to Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt.
Melancon leads the majors with 109 saves since the start of the 2014 season. In 259 games with the Pirates, he has a 1.78 ERA. He has grown into one of the most consistent and reliable closers in franchise history.
“I take a lot of pride in that,” Melancon said. “I think part of being consistent is going through a routine. I'm not superstitious, by any means, but do I take that pretty serious. I try to be the same guy every day.”
Melancon is not a flamethrower, as his fastball has sat in the mid-90s mph throughout his career. According to PITCHf/x, his fastball this season is averaging 91.4 mph.
“I remember him coming up to me in the outfield one time and saying, ‘I know my velo's down, but I feel fine. I think it's going to be OK,' ” reliever Jared Hughes said. “He's never in doubt of himself. Even when he's throwing 90-93 mph, his stuff is still really, really good.”
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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