When a player looks like he doesn’t have it anymore, your instinct might be to say it’s time to cut ties. It’s time to move on and find somebody better, because that guy is no longer getting the job done. That’s fine, but then there is a logical question that should follow but doesn’t always get asked:
What’s out there that’s better?
In this case, who is out there who is a better option in the bullpen than Matt Belisle and whom the Rockies can realistically target as an off-season addition?
This might be a different conversation if the Colorado Rockies only needed one or two arms for the bullpen. That is not the case at the moment, as this team needs to add a number of pieces in the back of the ‘pen. Even with fatigue and a stretch of ineffectiveness in 2013, the Rockies needed to bring Belisle back. He deserves to be in that mix.
Yes, Belisle’s 2013 numbers are bit concerning. In 72 games he posted a 4.32 ERA. On its own the number isn’t too alarming, and his other statistics (earned runs, home runs, etc.) are not drastically worse than previous seasons. It has more to do with when Belisle started pitching poorly. He was able to recover from a horrendous June (8.31 ERA) but then collapsed in the final month of the season with a 6.97 ERA. It is that decline at the end of the season that stoked concerns of overuse for a pitcher on whom the Rockies have leaned heavily in the last four seasons (72 or more appearances each season since 2010).
Matt Belisle is durable, he’s proven he can get the job done, and perhaps most importantly, he wants to be in Colorado. The Rockies need to lighten his workload and change the way he is used (i.e. don’t run him out there every single game). But Belisle is a unique pitcher and the Rockies needed to retain his services. If they can re-negotiate a contract with him to pay him less that’s all the better, but either way this is good news.