Melvin says Lyon is D-backs closer
Reliever has struggled recently but not in save chances
SAN DIEGO -- Bob Melvin didn't hesitate when he was asked the question Monday.
"Who's my closer tonight?" the D-backs manager said. "Brandon Lyon."
That no doubt will be disappointing news to many D-backs fans, who want to see the right-hander removed from that role after watching him allow 11 runs (10 earned) in 5 1/3 innings over his last six appearances.
Melvin, though, sees things a bit differently. He looks at Lyon's last six appearances and notices that of the five in which he struggled, none were save situations and all were at home. The one road game was in Colorado, and maybe not coincidentally, it was a save situation.
"I think it's been more of a home-road situation for him than a save-not save situation," Melvin said.
For the season, Lyon has a 2.22 ERA on the road and a 7.66 ERA at home.
Melvin also doesn't think he should remove a pitcher from the closer's role who has not blown a save opportunity since July 10 and is 6-for-6 in that category since. He's converted 25-of-30 save chances overall this season.
"I don't know that I can pull him out of that role when he hasn't been in a [save] situation in a while," Melvin said.
Maybe most importantly, Melvin knows that if he yanks Lyon from the closer's role right now, he risks not getting any kind of a contribution from Lyon the rest of the way. In addition, Melvin thinks back to earlier this year, when Chad Qualls and Tony Pena struggled and he stuck with them. Now, both are pitching well and are now looked at by fans as replacements for Lyon.
"I think I have to show confidence in him," Melvin said. "It would be easy with our depth to just say, 'Let's back both these guys off and put Tony Pena in the ninth and Chad Qualls in the eighth,' but if I had done that earlier with those guys, too, who knows where we'd be right now?
"[Lyon's] an integral part for us. He's the one guy that -- really other than the first week of the season -- hasn't struggled at all until this stretch here at home. I have to do what I feel is best for our team, and at this point in time today, he will close."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.