There are few things I hate more than seeing people in large numbers express an opinion that's not at all supported by actual facts. When this happens, things tend to take on a life of their own, and reasonable analysis is replaced by selective memory; Or in some special cases, complete fantasy.
Unfortunately, I think Colorado fans have come very close to reaching this point when it comes to the status of Matt Belisle. It's hard to pinpoint exactly where it got started, but now it doesn't matter if you're on twitter, comment sections of other sites, listening to the radio, or even hanging out here at Purple Row; when the subject of Matt Belisle comes up, there's instantly at least one person ready to talk about how he's done. There's never any actual evidence used to support this claim, but it shore is a popular opinion.
In any case, today we're going to dispel this garbage.
First up, a pop quiz. (If you were paying attention in the Marlins game thread from April 3rd, you should know the answers)
Question #1: The following three numbers are the OPS figures opponents have posted against Matt Belisle over the last three seasons (2011-2013). Can you find 2013?
Question #2: The following three numbers are the OBP figures opponents have posted against Matt Belisle over the last three seasons (2011-2013). Can you find 2013?
Question #3: The following three numbers are the strikeout to walk ratios Matt Belisle has posted over the last three seasons (2011-2013). Can you find 2013?
Question #4 (For the really advanced metrics fans out there): The following three numbers are the FIP, xFIP and SIERA figures (lower is better) Matt Belisle has posted over the last three seasons (2011-2013). Can you find 2013?
A) FIP = 3.03 / xFIP = 2.99 / SIERA = 2.91
B) FIP = 2.97 / xFIP = 3.33 / SIERA = 3.14
C) FIP = 3.07 / xFIP = 3.25 / SIERA = 2.87
Question #5: The following three numbers are the ERA figures Matt Belisle has posted over the last three seasons (2011-2013). Can you find 2013?
Pencils down. The answer to all five questions is "A".
Notice that in the first four questions, all of which include statistics far more important that reliever ERA, Belisle's numbers from 2013 were consistent or even slightly better then his numbers from 2011 and 2012. If you're one of these people on Twitter who want to take his higher 2013 ERA and put more weight into that than all the other stats combined (which are collectively screaming something different), you're a loser!
Another important note, here's a link to Belisle's game log page from last season. I want everyone to focus on two short lived rough patches. First the one from June 9th through June 27th, and then another from September 1st through September 11th. Both of those stretches were very bad, but that's all they were. Stretches. Now look at all the other starts he made. Here he was more like 2010 Matt Belisle. Why some fans seem to be only remembering those two stretches from last season is beyond me, but if you read some of the stuff said about him you would think Belisle pitched terrible all year, and that's just not even close to being rooted in fact.
There's simply no evidence that the Rockies' "Mr. Reliable" out of the bullpen is tailing off. His velocity is still just as strong as it was two years ago, he's getting the same amount of ground ball outs as he was before, he's still available to pitch in nearly half the games, and he's still keeps most hitters off balance. He's not what he was in 2010, but that was a career season and something nobody should be expecting again. From 2011 onward however, this guy's been the same pitcher.
However, that didn't stop the mass hysteria from the doomsayers following Belisle's rough outing in Miami where Troy Tulowitzki was oh by the way inches away from making a spectacular catch on a bloop with two outs that would have gotten Belisle out of the jam with no runs allowed.
Here's some actual comments I read following that outing here on Purple Row, and on Twitter...
"Belisle is done. Like career."
"So when do we cut Belisle. He's done."
"This is why you don't give a pitcher who's done this much money [Dan O'Dowd]"
"WOW. No skill at all anymore from this piece of (Not Purple Row friendly language) pitcher."
"Got to a TV just in time time to see Belisle is looking done"
Of course, this crowd has been a little quiet in Belisle's five outings since he derailed against the Marlins. The big righty has not allowed a run or a walk while only surrendering two hits (both singles) in this time, but I'm sure the next time he slips up even slightly, delusional naysayers will come out from every corner bearing torches and pitchforks to once again inform the world that this greatly unappreciated pitcher is done. And once again, they will be wrong.
If you really want to be concerned about the declining performance of a pitcher in the Colorado bullpen, I'd suggest Rex Brothers instead.