Friday, June 9, 2017

Contemplating Matt Belisle

Tyler Duffey got seven outs on Wednesday, so he wasn't going to be used Thursday short of another 15-inning marathon. That meant that, when Paul Molitor needed a reliever in the seventh inning Thursday, the manager had to step out of his bullpen comfort zone, which is to go Duffey-Taylor Rogers-Brandon Kintzler.

Matt Belisle entered, faced three hitters, got three outs (and his 10th hold). Then came Rogers and Kintzler.

Belisle has surrendered 17 earned runs in 20.1 innings, a decidedly sour 7.52 ERA. Dick Bremer talked about how a "couple" of bad outings wrecked his ERA, probably for the season, and indeed it's been a handful of disasters -- five earned runs in two-thirds of an inning on April 26, six earned runs in one-third of an inning on May 7, three earned runs in one-third of an inning on May 29. That's 14 earned runs in 1.1 innings, which means he allowed three runs in the other 19 -- a 1.42 ERA.

Belisle, who turned 37 on June 6, is a nursery rhyme reliever. When he's good he's very very good, but when he's bad he is horrid.

He's pitched in back-to-back games four times this year, and twice has gone six days between outings. Duffey, in comparison, has gone back-to-back only twice and has only once gone even five days without work. Eighteen of Belisle's 24 outings have come in the eighth inning; Duffey has come in after the seventh only once, in the notorious 15-inning loss on May 28 that is an outlier in a lot of ways.

As I've noted before, Molitor seems to like using Duffey two innings at a time, which limits his availability. Belisle has gone more than one inning just once, in that 15-inning game on May 28. The most recent of his disaster outings came the next day, and I suspect that Molitor may reasonably discount that game in gauging his confidence in Belisle.

I have tended to view the Twins bullpen as three guys Molitor trusts and four (or five) he doesn't, but Belisle may be a fourth that Molitor trusts, just in a different way than he trusts Duffey. Duffey gets longer outings; Belisle gets later ones.

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