Keep ‘Em or Kick ‘Em: Matt Belisle

By Editorial Staff

Now that the 2011 baseball season is officially in the books (moment of silence… thank you), we’re turning our attention to the offseason and who could be on the move. We’re happy to introduce a new feature – “Keep ‘Em or Kick ‘Em”, which will basically make the case for whether or not the Rockies should try to bring back a certain player. We won’t do the big names (See Tulo or CarGo, to name a few, because of obvious reasons)

First up? Matt Belisle, relief pitcher.

Keep ‘Em
Belisle had a 3.25 ERA, 58 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.26. Not bad, eh? Those are numbers that the Rockies could certainly use in what is almost guaranteed to look like a much different bullpen in 2012. He had the ability to be very clutch. He played in 74 games, throwing a total of 72 innings. He gave up 77 hits, 33 runs (26 earned), 5 home runs, and walked 14. His record in 2011 was actually very impressive – he went 10-4 with 14 holds. Not too shabby, eh?

Kick ‘Em
Belisle also had the tendency to choke in games. He blew 7 saves, and gave up some home runs that couldn’t have come at a worse time. Compare those 7 blown saves to ZERO saves. I don’t care who you are, a 0% save percentage in a year is just not good. Period. Belisle was effective when he had a sizable lead, but when the game was on the line, he couldn’t seal the deal. When you’re talking about an offense like the 2011 Rockies had, an effective bullpen is absolutely critical.

Ben’s Vote: Keep ‘Em
I haven’t been a huge fan of Belisle, but he’s been very reliable out of the pen, and since he’s already under contract for next season, the Rockies won’t have a fight on their hands when it comes to him. If he can get his home runs down and his save percentage up, Belisle could prove himself to be the bullpen MVP next season.

Michelle’s Vote: Keep ‘Em
I think the Rockies should do what they can to keep Belisle in the pen. It’s true that he has zero saves, but that’s because he’s best as a long-ish middle reliever who comes in at the start of an inning with nobody on base and keeps the opposing team to whatever number of runs they’ve already scored. That’s why he had 10 wins (which, by the way, was better than all but one of our starting pitchers). Jim Tracy’s failure to push the right bullpen buttons is what put Belisle in with men on base too frequently, inflating his ERA beyond what it would be otherwise. I don’t believe Tracy will do anything differently in 2012, but that’s not Belisle’s fault.

Matt’s Vote: Keep ‘Em
1) Innings eater out of the pen (He appeared in 74 game this year for the Rockies and 76 in 2010)
2) Great teammate from reports I’ve heard
3) Stays off the DL
4) Very solid numbers (I’d argue he’s even better than his numbers too because most of the runs he gave up came in a couple of blow up outings) For instance, on July 3rd he gave up 6 ER
in 0.2 innings.  If you take away that game, his ERA drops a quarter of a run on the season from 3.25 to a VERY IMPRESSIVE 2.51 (while pitching half his games at Coors).
5) I also think he’s a guy you could turn into a starter if you needed to.

In short, Belisle is probably the most underrated and under appreciated Rockie, was one of the few bright spots of the 2011 season, and will be important to the team’s success in 2012.