Mark Melancon, who, along with Jerry Sands, headlined the Pirates' return in the Joel Hanrahan trade, had a down-and-up year in 2012. He pitched horribly in April, got demoted, and then returned in June and steadily improved his numbers, culminating with some brilliant work late in the year. I watched several of his outings, from both early in the year and from the end. What the Pirates are getting, I think, is a pitcher who can be toxic against right-handed batters, but who probably shouldn't be used too frequently against lefties. Also, obviously, the Bucs will be hoping that Melancon doesn't have the problems with command that plagued him at the beginning of the 2012 season.

I started by watching Melancon's April 17 outing against the Texas Rangers. Melancon allowed three home runs in an 18-3 loss. The next time he pitched after that was for Pawtucket.

Against the Rangers, Melancon began by throwing two 93-MPH fastballs right down the middle to Ian Kinsler, who hit the second one hard to left. Cody Ross misjudged it, and Kinsler wound up with a double. Melancon then threw four straight balls to Elvis Andrus.