Giants closer Mark Melancon uncertain for start of the season

MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 05: Mark Melancon
MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 05: Mark Melancon /

The San Francisco Giants are already struggling to field a pitching staff to start the season, and now closer Mark Melancon may be out.

Coming off a 98-loss campaign in 2017, the San Francisco Giants added Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria to bolster their lineup. Late spring injuries to Madison Bumgarner (fractured left pinkie) and Jeff Samardzija (right pectoral) have thinned the starting rotation to open the season, and according to Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area closer Mark Melancon is now uncertain for the start of the season due to an ongoing arm issue.

Melancon only pitched in five spring games, allowing three runs on five hits with a 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio over 4.2 innings.

After tallying 47 saves for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals in 2016, Melancon signed a four-year, $62 million deal with the Giants. Like most of his teammates he had a very disappointing 2017 campaign (4.50 ERA over 30 innings, 11 saves), before a right forearm issue and subsequent surgery finally ended his season in September. A three-time All-Star, Melancon led both leagues with 51 saves for the Pirates in 2015.

Melancon said he was not feeling 100 percent after making his spring debut nearly three weeks ago, so his status for the start of the season has surely been an internal question for the Giants at least since then. Left-hander Tony Watson was signed in mid-February to bolster the setup crew ahead of Melancon, and he’s now a candidate to start the season closing games for San Francisco along with Sam Dyson and Hunter Strickland.

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The Giants are obviously not off to a good start to 2018 with pitcher injuries. Maybe some extra rest, with a short disabled list stint, will be enough for Melancon to get back to full strength by mid-April. But any major and now lingering forearm issue can easily translate to an elbow problem, and the dreaded Tommy John surgery.