Top 10 Pittsburgh Pirates of the first half

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Jul 10, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Mark Melancon (35) reacts after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park. The Pirates won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

#5 – Mark Melancon

Boy has Mark Melancon demolished all early-season criticisms of his performance with his pitching during the last couple months. The 30-year-old has been one of the best closers and relief pitchers in baseball during his time in Pittsburgh, and has done so without being flashy or by being a flamethrower. He enters the All-Star break not having given up a run in 28 straight appearances. In fact, he’s only given up runs in three outings this year, and his ERA is inflated from two rough outings in which he gave up six runs in total. But Melancon is on pace to have his best season yet in Pittsburgh.

His ERA of 1.47 is challenging the career-low mark of 1.39 he set in 2013, and his WHIP of 0.95 is challenging the career-low mark of 0.87 he set in 2014. He’s also on pace to blow past the career-high mark in saves he set in 2014 when he had 33; he has 29 already this season, good for the most in all of baseball. He did get an All-Star nod, and deservedly so, but for much of the season questions about his velocity and his delivery led many to not give him the respect he has earned in Pittsburgh.

Melancon makes up a three-man force at the back-end of the bullpen with Hughes and Watson, which rivals any back-end of a bullpen in all of baseball. There’s no reason to think he won’t at least keep his ERA under 2.00 and a WHIP under 1.00 for the rest of the season.

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