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Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Law's scouting report on Melancon

By ESPNBoston.com

ESPN Insider Keith Law provides a scouting report on new Red Sox reliever Mark Melancon, who the team received in a deal that sent Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland to the Houston Astros:

Melancon had a violent delivery that already led to one Tommy John surgery, but has been healthy over the four years since then with a cleaner arm action that still requires a lot of upper-body effort. His success in 2011 was largely due to a new cutter that keeps hitters from squaring up on his very straight four-seamer; the pitchers' velocities are very close, with the four-seamer staying up while the cutter breaks down and slightly toward a left-handed hitter. Melancon's cutter has also helped him become a strong ground ball pitcher, but his below-average changeup led to a moderate platoon split last season, especially in terms of keeping left-handed hitters off base.

Yet even in a year when he threw 74 innings, a relatively high figure for a reliever under today's highly specialized regimes, and walked only 20 guys unintentionally, Melancon was worth under a win above replacement per FanGraphs' WAR. Lowrie alone will double that in 2012 just by staying healthy -- he's a fringy defensive shortstop who can stay at the position but will probably be slightly below average, excelling on the transfer but suffering from a relative lack of lateral range.