St. Louis Cardinals Other Bullpen Pickup: Matt Belisle


During the off-season, the Cards acquired reliever Matt Belisle, formerly of the Colorado Rockies. I thought I’d take a look at him, what pitches he uses, past performance, and his character.

Belisle relies mainly on fastballs (which average 92 MPH) and sliders (87 MPH), while mixing in curves (75 MPH) and sinkers (92 MPH). Both his fastball and slider are worm killers, while both his curve and his sinker have more of a fly-ball tendency. None of his pitches are strikeout pitches, so when he is in the game, he’s going to keep his fielders’ busy.

He began as a starter/swingman with the Reds, fared poorly, became a free agent at the end of 2008, signed with the Rockies for the 2009 season, and had been with them ever since. After one bad season there, he had three solid seasons for the Rockies, until faltering a bit the past two years. Belisle, who’s 34, became a free agent this off-season and we snatched him up.

So the question I’m sure you’re asking is, how much of his faltering the last two years is due to the Coors Field effect and how much is due to aging?

Well in 2013, Belisle’s home ERA was 4.46 in 38.1 innings with a 1.304 WHIP while his road ERA was 4.15 in 34.2 innings with a 1.183 WHIP. Some dofference, but not a major one.

In 2014, it is a little more drastic. Belisle’s  home ERA was 5.40 in 35 innings pitched with a 1.629 WHIP while his road ERA was 4.25 in 29.2 innings with a 1.213 WHIP.

He does do better on the road, but even then, his ERA was over 4.25 the past two seasons, which makes me skeptical about his performance this year.

From what I’ve heard, Belisle has a good clubhouse presence, and will be a positive influence for the other relievers in the bullpen. It’s not as important as it is for some other clubs as we have some veterans, but it definitely doesn’t hurt.

As for his contract, 3.5 million isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s only a one year contract, so if he flounders, we aren’t on the hook for any additional years.

In conclusion, due to his road ERA’s the last two years, I’m more than a bit skeptical. On the other hand, we took a risk last year with Pat Neshek and it paid off handsomely. Belisle won’t match Neshek’s numbers, but he could surprise us by bouncing back this season from two bad years. If not, it’s only a one year contract.

As always, thanks for reading.