Pittsburgh Pirates' closer Mark Melancon had a streak of 23-straight converted save opportunities snapped when Daniel Murphy, who'd been dealing with a hamstring injury, hit a two-out, two-strike pinch hit homer off the reliever back on July 17th.
Dusty Baker told reporters after the game that he was impressed with Murphy's clutch hit especially since it came off a reliever as good as Melancon.
"I was saving Murph for a situation where hopefully he didn't have to run and beat out a double play or something," Baker explained.
"This was MVP-caliber in my mind. He's having an MVP season and that was big. Especially off a guy like Melancon who's an All-Star and a very good pitcher."
Melancon's blown one save since then, for three total on the season, but the 31-year-old, eight-year veteran, is in the midst of another impressive campaign in the Pirates' bullpen.
Through 45 relief appearances this season,, he has a 1.51 ERA, a 2.66 FIP, nine walks (1.94 BB/9), 38 Ks (8.21 K/9) and a .203/.252/.265 line against in 41 ⅔ IP.
He's held left-handers to a .212/.278/.277 line and right-handers to a .195/.231/.256 line.
Melancon avoided arbitration when he agreed on a 1-year/$9.65M deal with Pittsburgh this winter, and he's headed for free agency this winter, so it makes sense that the Pirates would listen to offers for the reliever, considering they have options on the major league roster.
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote this afternoon that the Nationals, who have been looking at relief options for the ninth inning have inquired about his availability:
Trade of Melancon would NOT signal #Pirates are conceding. Could close with Feliz/Watson. Deal worth exploring given potential return.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 29, 2016
The rumors of interest in the Royals' Wade Davis are nothing new, though his asking price is believed to be prohibitive.
What would it cost the Nationals to get Melancon away from the Pirates, even if he is just a two-month rental?