Diamondbacks closer Marc Melancon suffered his fifth loss on Saturday – a remarkable stat given he entered the year with 30 losses in 13 previous seasons – and manager Torey Lovullo responded somewhat vaguely when asked if the four-time All- Star would remain in the closer role (link via Arizona Republic’s Jose M. Romero). “We’re still going to have further discussions about his availability,” Lovullo said while accepting responsibility for some of Melancon’s struggles, which came amid a heavy workload. Melancon spent a week on the Covid roster from April 29 to May 6, then made six appearances in nine days after being activated. He drove in 10 runs in 3 2/3 innings during that span.
Signed by the D-backs to a two-year, $14 million deal over the winter, Melancon gave up 14 runs (11 earned) on 20 hits and five walks with just four strikeouts in 11 frames 2 /3 so far. His fastball, which averaged 92.2 mph in 2021, now sits at just 90.8 mph. However, Melancon’s hitting and chasing rates are actually better than last season’s ratings, and he’s been plagued with a whopping .396 average on balls in play. If the Diamondbacks go any other direction, veteran Ian Kennedy has extensive experience and is second on the team with five strikes, having been Lovullo’s main option in the eighth inning thus far.
A few more notes from the division…
- Left-Handed Dodgers Clayton Kershaw and Andrew Heane could both be ready for bullpen sessions this week, manager Dave Roberts said during yesterday’s media session (Twitter connections via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic). Kershaw felt mild pain while playing catch, but could be cleared for a pen session by Wednesday. There’s no specific day for a Heaney bullpen, but he also plays catch. Kershaw has a 1.80 ERA in five starts and 30 innings this season, but recently landed on the shelf due to a hip problem that was treated with an epidural. Heaney has been out since mid-April with a shoulder problem, but opened a lot of eyes early in his tenure with the Dodgers. In 10 1/3 innings, Heaney allowed just one unearned run on four hits and three walks with 16 strikeouts. Wielding a new slider in place of his old curve ball and having all but abandoned his change, Heaney posted a mammoth 20.5% strike rate and 36.5% opponent chase rate before landing on the ‘HE. He signed a one-year, $8.5 million contract with the Dodgers early in the offseason. Kershaw signed a one-year, $17 million deal to return shortly after the lockdown was lifted.
- Kris Bryant joins the Rockies’ Triple-A affiliate for a pair of minor league rehab games this week, tweet Danielle Allenck of the Denver Gazette. If all goes well, he could be back in the Rox roster by the weekend. Unavailable since April 26 due to a back injury that the team hoped would require a minimum stay in IL, Bryant will instead end up missing more than three weeks of action, at least. As The Athletic’s Nick Groke writes, Bryant received a cortisone injection last week after an initial period of rest did not fully cure his illness. Bryant’s return could push wrestlers Sam Hilliard at Triple-A, especially with non-option options Jonathan Daza hitting well at the moment and thus giving the team a productive fourth field option. Utility Garrett Hampson is also capable of playing all three outfield spots, although he was primarily used as an infielder in 2022.