Exit Interview: Matt Belisle

For the fourth straight year, we’re taking some time in that time between the end of the season and the winter meetings to discuss each player that made an appearance on the St. Louis roster this season.  Whether they played almost every day or never actually got into a game, they get covered in this series.  All stats are exclusively their time in St. Louis.   Just think of this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a quick evaluation before heading home for the winter.

Player: Matt Belisle

Season stats: 1-1, 2.67 ERA, 34 games, 33.2 IP, 34 H, 1 HR, 15 BB, 25 K, 1.455 WHIP, 3.64 FIP, 0.8 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Goat 1

Overall grade: C+

Positives: Was a fairly reliable portion of the bullpen when he was healthy, filling in that transition between starters and the back end of the pen….was only touched for one home run on the season, a good feature out of a reliever….even though the underlying numbers weren’t much different, had a 1.47 ERA at home versus a 4.11 ERA away from Busch….threw 3.2 scoreless innings in September as he returned from elbow inflammation.

Negatives: Missed 70 games with that elbow issue….even though he didn’t allow a run in September, he did hit three batters, showing his command wasn’t quite back…first batters hit .355/.412/.419 against him….in close and late, they beat him around at .318/.408/.379 and batters had an OPS of .867 when he faced them in a tie game….gave up three runs (including his only home run) in an inning against Philadelphia, though that was his next-to-last outing before being placed on the DL.

Overview: It was doubly frustrating to see a guy like Belisle, who was so excited about being a Cardinal, miss so much of what could be his only season wearing the birds on the bat.  Belisle did some really good work in the low-leverage situations (OPS of .694 against in those) and even though he wasn’t a dominating figure, more often than not he got the job done.  You wouldn’t want him closing out games, of course (he finished 10 games, but none that were close enough to be considered a save situation) but for an option in the sixth inning, he was pretty solid.  You wonder how Mo approaches the trading deadline if Belisle was healthy.  If nothing else, you figure he’d have passed on Steve Cishek, who wound up taking a lot of the situations that Belisle probably would have been in.

Outlook: Belisle’s a free agent, but given his public statements about wanting to play for St. Louis back in the spring, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d like to take another turn on the merry-go-round.  I think the club might be be willing to give him that opportunity, as well.  Another one-year deal in the neighborhood with what he got last year ($3.5 million) wouldn’t seem to be terribly out of line.  Belisle will pitch in the big leagues next year for sure, though his demand isn’t going to be insanely high.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see them re-sign Belisle soon after the free agent period begins.

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