Diamondbacks Place Closer On IL, Call Up Reliever

Just two days after recording his 4th save of the young season, Arizona Diamondbacks closer Mark Melancon is headed to the injured list. They've called up reliever Kenyan Middleton, who has a bit of experience with late-game high-leverage situations in the majors. 

The D-Backs, however, already have a built-in backup for the closer role, as Ian Kennedy, though off to a slow start this season, has plenty of experience finishing games. 

The 37-year-old Melancon has registered 248 saves in his 14-year career, and has led the majors twice; in 2015, he had a league-leading 51 saves with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and just last season, he recorded 39 saves with the San Diego Padres. That was enough to earn him a 2-year, $14M contract with the D-Backs this offseason. 

The team has declined to announce why Melancon has hit the IL, which makes it likely he's on the Covid list, and if all's well, he could return before long. 

Middleton, 28, was one of several Seattle Mariners relievers who picked up saves in the 2021 season, as he recorded four of them, while nevertheless posting a mediocre ERa of 4.94, with an equally unsightly 1.58 WHIP. The right-hander has had a strong start at Reno of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League this season, allowing just 5 hits and one run in 7.2 innings. 

Kennedy has collected 56 saves for three different teams since turning to the bullpen in 2019, after 12 years as a starter. He's allowed 9 hits and 5 earned runs in 8 innings to this point in 2022, but he will likely get first dibs at the closing job while Melancon is out, if he can improve his showing thus far this season. 

The D-Backs have also re-called starter Caleb Smith and optioned lefty Tyler Holton to Rena of the PCL.

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports