When the Red Sox acquired Mark Melancon last December in a trade with the Astros, they expected him to be a vital piece of the bullpen.
But Melancon has been far from the lights-out closer who shined in Houston.
Through his first 33 games for the Red Sox, which were interrupted with a nearly two-month-long detour to Pawtucket, Melancon had a 7.71 ERA. This September, however, he's shown the promise that first interested Boston general manager Ben Cherington.
Over his last seven outings entering Saturday, Melancon has posted a 1.08 ERA and struck out 12 batters over 8 1/3 innings. Melancon says the results are just part of what has changed.
"Just attitude and mentality, and pitching with a little more emotion," Melancon told MLB.com. "Kind of just — I've never been a person to be angry or anything, but to pitch with kind of some … I don't know what to call it, but a little more fiery."
The emotion has fueled Melancon to his strong September, and he said he hopes his drastic turnaround will bode well for next season.
"It's always nice to finish strong," Melancon said. "The great part of me finishing strong now is I think it's going to propel into the offseason and work even extra hard to continue that success as opposed to putting it off and counting on it to come back."
The results have been so good, in fact, that Melancon is better off than the rest of his Red Sox teammates from what has been a rough year.
"As bad as this season has been, I feel like this month has been kind of an uplifting month," he said. "I'm still excited about playing. I definitely don't want it to end right now. Normally with a season like this, you do want it to end. But my fire is burning high right now. It's going to be sad to end the season right now."
When it comes to picking emotions, Melancon will take "fiery" over "sad" any day.