Fall 2021 SS Magazine

'Jesus Believer' Mark Melancon named NL Reliever of the Month

Through the first month of the Major League Baseball season, no relief pitcher has been better than San Diego Padres pitcher Mark Melancon.

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The 36-year-old closer on Monday was named National League Reliever of the Month after notching nine saves in nine opportunities. On Wednesday, he earned his league-best 11th save and has yet to blow a save this young season, having given up just one run in 15 innings of work.

“Individually, it’s great,” Melancon told the San Diego Union-Tribune about the award. “You go into the season wanting to start off really hot and do your part in a collective effort to win games. So from that standing, it’s really good. It’s awesome. We’ve got five months left. I want to continue that.”

Melancon’s career has taken him all across the major leagues — eight teams, to be exact. He’s succeeded virtually everywhere, making three All-Star teams and leading the National League in saves in 2015 en route to being named NL Reliever of the Year when he pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He’s also shared his testimony and faith in Jesus along the way.

At the Boston Red Sox Faith Day in 2012, Melancon shared that he grew up in a Christian home in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, to loving Christian parents. He committed his life to Christ when he was 9 years old.

“I don’t know what it was that day that brought my heart to do that, but ever since then I know that I have eternity in Heaven,” he said. “That’s such a freedom that many people don’t have, and I wish they did have that. It’s a freedom to know where you’re going when you die.”

Now in his 13th season, Melancon has experienced quite a bit of success. At Faith Day in 2013 with the Pirates, he said baseball is full of more failure than success, but his faith has guided him through it all.

“This game is built on failure, so when I look at the things that we go through on a nightly basis and how tough it is to be successful, if you don’t have Jesus Christ in your life, I really don’t know how you do it,” he said. “There’s so many times throughout the season where you’re struggling, you’re going through something, and if you don’t have that background and that faith, it’s just so difficult to get through.”

Melancon, who describes himself as a “Jesus Believer” on Twitter, and the Padres have Thursday off before a three-game series in San Francisco, which San Diego trails by a half-game atop the NL West standings.

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