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Rockies season review 2014: Matt Belisle reached the end of the line

After several years of being a workhorse out of the Rockies bullpen, Matt Belisle ran out of steam in 2014.

Doug Pensinger

Lets get this out of the way first: Matt Belisle has done some excellent work for the Rockies out of the bullpen ever since he won a roster spot as a minor league non-roster invitee in 2009. In fact, in both 2010 and 2012 Belisle was a league average pitcher - a very difficult feat for a reliever to achieve. From 2010 to 2013, Belisle was near the top of the leaderboard for relievers in innings pitched (317) and appearances (302).

The righty, who came up in the Braves and Reds organizations as a starter, was not only prolific, he was also extremely effective during that time. Belisle posted ERA+ numbers well over 100 for each of the four years leading up to 2014 while carrying a big load. For that, he was compensated more each year. This year, the 34 year-old Belisle entered a contract year making $4.25 million. Unfortunately for him and Rockies fans, this year didn't go so well.

What happened

Though Belisle had been extremely effective as a reliever for Colorado, his ERA had gradually risen each year since 2010. This year, the level of performance really dropped, as Belisle saw his ERA balloon to 4.87 with worrisome peripheral stats. Belisle simultaneously had his lowest K/9 rate as a Rockies reliever and his highest BB/9 while generating the lowest ground ball rate since 2009 - leading to opposing batters hit .292/.338/.419 off of him this year.

Belisle did have his moments - he allowed one run in ten May innings while picking up a start and two wins in August - but he was simply dreadful in others. That included four runs allowed in the season opening series against Miami to earn the loss and a four run September blowup against San Francisco as the Rockies tried to play spoiler.

By the numbers
Matt Belisle, 2014
IP 64⅔
ERA 4.87
FIP 3.74
K/9 6.0
BB/9 2.6
GB% 46.0
BABIP .322
rWAR 0.1

The arsenal (fastball/slider/curve/change) hasn't changed much, nor has the mix (about 60-65% fastball/cutter) or the velocity (low 90s on the heater, mid 80s on slider/change, mid 70s on the curve). The pitches just weren't as effective this past year at getting batters to swing and miss. Walt Weiss and company seemed to be cognizant of this, as Belisle was phased out of high leverage work this season - his average Leverage Index was 0.88 this year, indicative of a mop-up man and well below the averages from previous years.

2014 Grade: D+

With all of that said, Belisle was good enough to rate above most of the rest of the Colorado bullpen this year. If he were a replacement reliever a la Nick Masset or Chris Martin, these numbers would have been expected. The problem is that Belisle had pitched so well in recent seasons and was making enough money such that expectations for him were understandably elevated. In producing a replacement level season, Belisle failed to meet those expectations. Still though, Belisle remained healthy and was there to throw those innings, which is why he earns a passing (but GPA busting) grade for the year.

After six years in the Colorado organization, it appears that Matt Belisle has reached the end of the road with the Rockies. If this is the last we see of Belisle in a Rockies uniform, I hope we'll remember his days as an effective fireman out of the pen and not his role in a historically bad bullpen this year.