35-Year-Old Pitcher – Free Agent
2016 Fantasy Baseball Outlook
Belisle proved to be a well-spent $3.5 million for the Cardinals in 2015, providing versatile innings out of the bullpen and delivering a 2.67 ERA across 33.2 frames. Belisle's 1.46 WHIP and 25:15 K:B...
Matt Belisle Contract Information:
Signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Cardinals in December of 2014.
Belisle (elbow) will be activated before Saturday's regularly scheduled game, MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch reports.
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Matt Belisle Split Stats (View Full Split Stats)
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2015 Stat Review for Matt Belisle As compared to the top 100 relief pitchers in 2015 (min 55 in)
A collection of stats that measure different skills.
A few general measures of a pitcher's effectiveness.
Balls in play avg. and % of runners left stranded.
Matt Belisle: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
After tossing 317 mostly-effective relief innings over the previous four seasons, Belisle's massive workload finally caught up to him in 2014. While the 34-year-old didn't notice a decline in velocity, Belisle's diminished control and inability to avoid hard contact resulted in a 4.87 ERA over 66 appearances, his worst mark since the 2009 season. Signed by the Cardinals in the offseason, Belisle's surface numbers probably stand to improve simply by moving away from Coors Field, but park factors alone shouldn't be attributed to his dropoff in performance. Belisle saw his walk, strikeout and groundball rates all veer off fairly substantially in undesired directions, suggesting that a dramatic correction in his ERA may not be in the offing. The former fireman seems to be a replacement-level bullpen arm at this stage of his career, but the Cardinals will attempt to turn him back in the right direction after signing Belisle to a one-year deal in December.
Belisle maintained his reputation as a bullpen iron man by surpassing the 70-inning plateau for his fourth straight campaign with the Rockies, but he seems to be showing diminishing effectiveness with each passing year. Along with his ERA, his average fastball velocity has tailed off in each of his four seasons in Denver, a sign that the excessive workload is beginning to take its toll. The offseason addition of LaTroy Hawkins to the back end of the bullpen should lessen some of the burden on Belisle, who still maintained acceptable 7.6 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 rates last season, even with the quality of his arsenal on the decline. Expect him to see most of his duty in the seventh inning this year, with Wilton Lopez and Adam Ottavino also likely to receive looks there on the occasions that Belisle needs rest.
Belisle was arguably the team's best pitcher through the first half of last season, compiling a 1.93 ERA while holding opposing batters to a .255 average. However, things dipped dramatically after the All-Star break for Belisle, who gave up 23 runs over 33.1 innings. That swoon may have had more to do with an increased workload beginning in July when the team limited its starters to 75 pitchers per outing, resulting in the overuse of many of the team's relievers. In spite of the sour end to last season, Belisle's ability to command the strike zone and avoid home runs should allow him to reprise his role as one of the top setup men to Rafael Betancourt. Even so, Belisle's upside remains somewhat limited since the team would likely turn to Rex Brothers or Wilton Lopez at closer if Betancourt were to get injured or traded.
Although he's seldom in the mix for save opportunities, Belisle has emerged as a valuable bullpen contributor for the Rockies over the last three seasons. For fantasy owners who have plugged him in as a cheap stiff filler, he's managed to contribute 17 wins in relief since 2010 while racking up 164 innings during that span. Anything relievers provide in that department should be considered a bonus, however. While there may be some long-term concerns here about a breakdown given that workload, his increasing groundball rate and steady control should help him remain valuable as a setup man even if the strikeouts continue to slip away (8.90 K/9IP in 2010 down to 7.25 in 2011).
Belisle had a very productive 2010 season out of the bullpen as he posted a 7-5 record with a 2.93 ERA and 1.087 WHIP, both career lows. He improved his strikeout rate to a career-high 8.90 K/9IP, while keeping his walk rate in check at 1.57 BB/9IP. He lowered his flyball rate (33.3 percent) and raised his groundball rate (46.3 percent), both of which are keys to pitching well in Coors Field. Considering the volatile nature of relief pitchers and that this is Belisle's real first taste of success, it's tough to tell if he can carry the progress he made into 2011. Either way, it's doubtful that Belisle finds himself closing games for the Rockies, so his value is limited to fantasy owners.
Belisle was originally in the mix for a rotation spot in 2009, as he impressed the Rockies out of spring training -- 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA, seven strikeouts and two walks -- but the peripherals showed opponents batting .350 and slugging .500, and he began the year in the minors. He fought his way into the bullpen, only to muff the opportunity, clear waivers and be reassigned to Colorado Springs. The Rockies have re-signed him to a one-year deal for 2010, and you can expect more of the same unreliability and inconsistency.
Belisle began the year on the DL with a strained forearm and then got hammered in six starts upon his return, essentially ending any chance of being in the rotation again. The Reds converted him to relief work at Triple-A Louisville, and he ended the year by blowing out his knee. As a result, Belisle was non-tendered in December.
It speaks volumes as to the state of the Reds' starting rotation that Belisle is still slotted for the third or fourth starter's slot, despite his bumpy 2007 campaign. Belisle is just too hittable, allowing 212 hits in 177.2 IP last year, keeping in line with his career numbers. Look for Belisle to begin the year in the rotation, but with Johnny Cueto near ready and with the Reds having a surplus of outfielders to trade for a starter, he almost certainly won't end the year in the rotation.
Belisle has been in the Reds organization since 2003, and they still haven't figured out if he's a starter or a reliever. At one point he even received consideration as a closer, but those days are gone. He's had faint glimpses of glory with the team as a starter, but at his best he was just a six-inning pitcher with a low strikeout rate. He's going to get consideration as a fifth starter, but will probably end up in middle relief.
After picking up a save in July, there was some speculation that Belisle would be groomed as a potential closer. Three blown saves and a mediocre strikeout rate later, closing no longer seems like a plausible option. He'll return as a set-up man for the Reds.
While exceptions exist, when the Braves come knocking and offer one of their pitching prospects, check your wallet. Belisle's star began fading once he hit the Double-A wall in 2003, and he took another step backwards at Triple-A Louisville in 2004. Belisle's fading strikeout rate is the key stat to follow here.
Of the Reds' dump-trades in 2003, their trade of two months' worth of Kent Mercker for Belisle might have been their best value. Belisle's K-rate dropped in 2003, but it's not too long ago that he was considered one of the Braves' best pitching prospects. Back problems that sidelined him in 2001 loom as a concern.
The Braves still consider this 6'3?, 195, right-hander, who turns 23 in June, one of their top prospects despite missing all of 2001 with a ruptured disc in his back. His ERA last year at Double-A won't get you excited, but check out the amazing 123/39 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Look for a promotion to Triple-A, and a possible late-season major league audition.