WASHINGTON – The Giants plan to activate right-hander Mark Melancon from the disabled list on Saturday, but it sure sounds as if the $62 million closer’s elbow discomfort remains an ongoing battle.
Asked if Melancon were finally past the pronator strain in his elbow that has put him on the DL twice this season, or if he merely improved to the point where he can pitch, Giants manager Bruce Bochy chose the latter description.
“He feels like he’s pitchable,” Bochy said. “In our bullpen, he can contribute and help out. That’s what he wants to do.”
Melancon, 32, hasn’t pitched since June 27 and has a 4.35 ERA in 22 appearances. He has blown four of 15 save opportunities, including one on opening day at Arizona.
Meanwhile, right-hander Sam Dyson has a 2.22 ERA in 23 appearances, is 8 for 9 in save chances and there would appear to be no reason – aside from a nod to Melancon’s hefty contract – to remove him from the closer role.
Bochy has said Melancon would be the closer eventually. But to begin, the manager would prefer to use Melancon in a lower leverage situation or two.
“Still, if it’s a close game, I’ll use him,” Bochy said.
Second baseman Miguel Gomez was feeling better three days after he injured his knee while running down the first base line. “I asked him if he could outrun me,” Bochy said.
Johnny Cueto (strained flexor muscle in forearm) began playing very light catch – his first time picking up a baseball since he left his rehab start at Single-A San Jose because of elbow discomfort.
Cueto said he was grateful that he felt no pain, but he has a long way to go as he builds up intensity and then gets back on a mound.
This should be an interesting series for the Giants, who are playing some of their best baseball of the season. (Not a high bar, sure.) They are 6-3 in August and took series wins over the Cubs and Diamondbacks, a pair of quality clubs.
They also have slept in their own beds for 20 of their last 23 games (counting the two games at Oakland). So we’ll see if they can play better than they 19-38 road record thus far while taking on a team that is coasting into October.
The series is winnable because the Giants face only one solid starter, Max Scherzer, on Saturday. It’s Edwin Jackson today and A.J. Cole on Sunday. (Of course, the Giants don’t start either of their best two here – Madison Bumgarner and Ty Blach.)
It’s a routine day off for Buster Posey, who gets a full, 48-hour breather to recharge. There’s a stray thunderstorm or two in the Friday night forecast, but they should get this game in.
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