Name brand veterans with experience can pay off in a bullpen with shared roles for saves. However, paying full price for him makes a fantasy owner walk the line between a safe or risky venture. Enter Mark Melancon who agreed to a contract with San Diego. With Drew Pomeranz and Emilio Pagán already projected to share high leverage roles, how does Melancon fit in? Beat writers forecast Melancon as a much needed veteran presence for an inexperienced group with an outside chance for saves.

As for last year, Melancon went 2-1 with 11 saves in 23 contests with Atlanta over 22.2 innings with a 14:7 K:BB, 2.78 ERA, 4.34 SIERA and 1.28 WHIP. His underlying statistics hint at some future regression to the mean, especially the SIERA numbers well above his ERA. Melancon registered an 8.7 swinging strike percentage last year giving up an 80.5 contact rate and a whopping 93.2 Z-Contact (in the strike zone) percentage.

According to Statcast, Melancon allowed 72 batted ball events giving up three barrels (4.2 percent), an 88.9 MPH average exit velocity and 34.7 hard hit rate. He managed a 26.4 sweet spot percentage but his expected numbers also project future migration to the mean with a 3.41 expected ERA (xERA), .247 expected batting average (xBA) and .275 expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA).

Melancon mainly relies on two pitches, his cutter and curveball. Here's how each pitch fared in 2020:

- Melancon Cutter: .236 xBA, .288 xwOBA, 13.1 whiff percentage, 9.1 K%, 12.8 put away percent

- Melancon Curveball: .256 xBA, .254 xwOBA, 31 whiff percentage, 25 K%, 19.6 put away percent

Beneath these results, Melancon yielded a 91.1 zone contact percentage last year while notching his lowest whiff rate (19.6 percent) since Statcast started tracking data in 2015. Luckily Melancon induced ground balls over 61 percent of his batted ball events defraying further damage to his ratios.

To better understand Melancon, expanding his statistics further provides a wider net of numbers. First, here are his results from the second half of 2019 through and including last season:

- Melancon 2H 2019-through-2020: 4-1, 23 Saves, 54 games, 53.1 IP, 48:10 K:BB, 2.87 ERA, 3.16 SIERA, 1.09 WHIP, 22.1 K%, 4.6 BB%

Fantasy owners do not target Melancon for his ratio protection or strikeout totals, it's all about the saves during which he ranked seventh in this time frame. High leverage can be fleeting but Melancon overcomes his repertoire with guts and guile at times. Since projections refer to the last three years data, here's how they stack up:

- Melancon Last Three Years: 8-7, 26 Saves, 130 games, 129 IP, 113:39 K:BB, 3.35 ERA, 3.60 SIERA, 1.40 WHIP, 20.4 K%, 7.1 BB%, 89.3 Z-Contact

Melancon improved once he arrived in Atlanta after floundering in San Francisco, where his results above got weighed down, especially his WHIP. When figuring out if to take Melancon it really depends on team need and how one values him for 2021. His projections foresee his numbers moving towards last year's SIERA but a slight uptick in strikeouts:

Comparing these numbers to ten-game rolling charts from the last three years may provide some caution for Melancon this season:

Even for a crafty veteran like Melancon, this may prove to be too fine of a line to walk in order to return fantasy value. This may be the year to let someone else incur the risk.

Statistical Credits:

THE BAT courtesy of Derek Carty

ATC courtesy of Ariel Cohen

ZiPS courtesy of Dan Szymborski