This is a series of evaluations that will be done this offseason on every player that closed the season on the 40-man roster for the Minnesota Twins throughout the winter until each player has been evaluated. The plan is to start with Mr. Belisle and move all the way through the pitchers, then to the catchers, infielders, outfielders and finally those listed as designated hitters on the club’s official MLB.com roster. That means we’ll wrap it up with Kennys Vargas sometime before the season starts.
- Name: Matt Belisle
- 2017 Role: Middle relief to start the season, closer to end season.
- Expected 2018 Role: If re-signed, would likely reprise role in middle relief. This doesn’t seem terribly likely to happen, though.
- MLB Stats: 4.03 ERA, 4.07 FIP in 60.1 innings, 8.1 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, plus-0.6 fWAR
- MiLB Stats: N/A
- Contract Status: Free agent.
It didn’t start well for Belisle in a Twins uniform. That might be the understatement of the year, as the grizzled veteran righty looked like he was just going to be another reclamation project failure, sort of like Tim Stauffer before him.
To be fair, it wasn’t hard to see what made Twins fans turn on him. It wasn’t just a slow start for Belisle. He carried an ERA above 8.00 into mid-June. His ERA at the All-Star break was 5.82. To suggest that Belisle wouldn’t only be pitching meaningful innings at some point in the season at the break -- let alone closing out games effectively -- would have gotten someone laughed out of the room, yet that was the case.
The line in the sand statistically for Belisle was San Francisco. It was June 11. Belisle turned a 5-4 lead into an 8-4 deficit when the dust settled, and that four-run appearance where he recorded just two outs pushed his ERA to 8.59. The DFA whispers became chants, yet Derek Falvey and Thad Levine stayed the course with the veteran righty.
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