By Jason Shetler
The Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals struck a deal on Saturday involving Mark Melancon. In return, the Pirates receive pitchers Felipe Rivero and Taylor Hearn. Now it’s time to assess the big trade.
Over the last few seasons, Mark Melancon has established himself as one of the best relievers in baseball. That success continued again this year, posting a 1.51 ERA with a WHIP of 0.96 in 45 appearances, while being named an All-Star for the third time in his career. It’ll be interesting to see if the Nationals use him as their closer or in the setup role to Jonathan Papelbon.
Felipe Rivero is a 25-year-old left-hander who was pitching in the Nationals bullpen this season. In 47 appearances, he posted a 4.53 ERA, but his other stats are impressive with a 3.26 Fielding Independent Pitching, a 1.17 WHIP and strikeout ratio of 9.6. Rivero can really bring it with the fastball, averaging 95.3 mph, which has the ability to touch 100 on the gun.
The Pirates originally chose Hearn as a 22nd round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, but did not sign. The 21-year-old southpaw was drafted by the Nats as a fifth round selection last year. This season, he was putting up an ERA of 3.18 with a solid 12.3 K/9 in 22.2 innings pitched for Low A Hagerstown. Just like Rivero, Hearn can register his fastball in the upper-90’s.
The Nationals obviously bolster their bullpen with Melancon on the short term. From the Pirates perspective, Rivero will be the main seventh inning reliever with Neftali Feliz as the setup man and Tony Watson assuming the duties as closer. In regards to Hearn, the Pirates have announced that he will be used primarily as a starter. By obtaining a pair of hard-throwing lefties for Melancon, who very likely wasn’t going to be brought back this offseason, it’s a good move by the Pirates not just for the present, but future as well.