This latest blown save might just be the signature moment in Brandon Lyon's 2011 season, and let's hope it was his final ninth inning appearance for a little while.
The Astros handed Lyon a two-run lead going into the final frame at Cincinnati, as starter Aneury Rodriguez and four relievers had limited the Reds to just one hit through eight scoreless innings. And then Lyon was awful. He walked Drew Stubbs on four pitches, then wild-pitched him to second. Then three straight singles brought Jay Bruce to the plate, and he promptly did this. Ball game. (Yeah, it's kind of hysterical that Houston was preparing for a bunt, considering the pitcher). Lyon failed to retire a batter, blowing his fourth save in eight chances. His ERA is now 7.15 and his WHIP is ... well, it's gruesome, and we've chosen not to release it.
Joey Votto's postgame comments can't possibly inspire confidence if you're a Lyon owner:
"I think we felt pretty comfortable against Brandon Lyon and we got some pretty good pitches to hit."
So, um ... sigh. There's little else that needs to be said. Your move, Brad Mills.
Houston's manager reportedly declined to discuss Lyon's future immediately following the game, but that doesn't mean we can't do it. If you're speculating on potential replacements, Mark Melancon is the first pitcher to grab. He's a right-hander with a closing-quality strikeout rate, and he's posted a 1.72 ERA through 15.2 innings. Melancon seems to give up a hit or two in every appearance (game log here), so we can't quite describe him as lights-out. But he appears to be the best option in that 'pen at the moment. The other choices would be Jeff Fulchino, who worked the eighth on Wednesday (perhaps because Melancon has pitched three days out of four), and Wilton Lopez, who recently returned from the DL.
Personally, I've added Melancon in multiple leagues (last week, not today). He's my pick-up. And I cannot wait to fire Lyon, just as soon as Mills gives us the green light.
UPDATE, May 5: The Astros have reportedly shipped Lyon back to Houston for a shoulder exam, so he's out of the saves mix right now. Going forward, with Lyon exiled, it sounds like Melancon is definitely the guy to own. This from Mills, via Alyson Footer:
"We're going to give the ninth inning to Melancon and go from there."
But it's worth noting that Melancon has pitched in each of the Astros' last three games. Perhaps Lopez or Fulchino would get the nod on Thursday, should a save opportunity present itself. Not sure. Wilton, you'll recall, was excellent last season (2.96 ERA, 1.06 WHIP), but he battled elbow issues in April, just came off the disabled list.
In any case, the add here is Melancon. Hopefully you've grabbed him already.
Photo via AP Images