The best pitches of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Shark Tank

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Sep 22, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher

Mark Melancon

(35) pitches in the ninth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Melancon came over to the Pirates in the Brock Hold/Joel Hanrahan trade prior to the 2013 season and has been a rock for the Pirates almost form Day one.  A lot of that reliability has to do with his knuckle-curve.  Let’s take a look at how this pitch rates by our criteria:

O-Swing % O-contact % SwStr% Ground ball rate Fly Ball Rate
50.3% 35.8% 25.3% 55.3% 10.5%

Melancon makes his money with his cut-fastball, but also knows that if he wants to get batters to chase, the curveball is his best friend.  Getting batters to chase and swing at above-average rates will do that.  When batters do chase, they often leave it on the carpet, and rarely get it in the air.  Not pictured is a line drive rate of 34%, which you live with if you get people to chase it half of the time.

Our next shark tied for the most appearances by a reliever in 2014, and rightfully so.

Next: Watson's best pitch is elementary