Braves: Letting Mark Melancon walk just keeps looking worse and worse

Braves bullpen has multiple options for closer role

At this point, let’s just hope there is some shred of truth to Mark Melancon not wanting to return to Atlanta because if it was the other way around, this is looking like an ill-advised mistake that could have been avoided. The Shark isn’t just pitching well for the Padres; he’s been the best reliever in the National League to this point in the season and was named the National League Reliever of the Month for April.

Through the first month of the season, Melancon already has an NL-leading nine saves to go along with a 0.69 ERA. His K-rate, which was a career-low of 5.7 per nine innings in 2020, has also seen a substantial uptick, as he’s struck out 9.7 per nine this season.

Meanwhile, the Braves have had one of the worst bullpens in the majors so far, recording just 0.1 fWAR as a team to go along with a 4.72 ERA and 4.59 xFIP. Not to mention, they are in desperate need of a right-handed reliever. By himself, Melancon has already produced seven times as much WAR as the entire Braves bullpen. You have to think Atlanta would have at least a couple of more wins if he were on the roster, and the craziest part is that Alex Anthopoulos let him walk for a measly $3 million over one year.

There’s no doubt about it; not bringing back The Shark was a grave misjudgment by the Braves front office — unless, of course, Melancon simply preferred moving back out West to live in San Diego. That’s certainly a possibility, but I’m not buying it. Melancon seemed to really enjoy pitching for the Braves, and who wouldn’t want to be a part of a team that was so close to making it to the World Series last year. It’s much more likely Atlanta deemed Melancon not worth the money, which didn’t make much sense at the time and certainly looks laughable now. Just imagine if the Braves had used that $11 million they paid Drew Smyly on Mark Melancon and added even more relief help. I can guarantee you one thing — they definitely wouldn’t be sitting at 12-16 right now.

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