When the Minnesota Twins traded away closer (and impending free agent) Brandon Kintzler, many were worried that the Twins would not have any reliever that would be able to provide that level of experience or production at closer.
Instead, moving Kintzler may have been the best thing for forcing better bullpen management upon manager Paul Molitor. He began spreading out the important innings to a host of different relievers in the bullpen, but though 5 pitchers recorded saves after Kintzler left, Belisle was the man most frequently with the ball in the 9th.
Coming into August when he took the role, Belisle had a 4.64 ERA and had seemingly been an ineffective reliever on the season. However, if you look deeper into his season, Belisle had made 44 appearances by the end of July for the Twins, and in 36 of them, he allowed no earned runs at all, and in 4 more, he allowed just one run. So his big ERA was really the result of 4 of his 44 appearances on the season.
From August to the end of the season, he had just one more game allowing more than a single run, and that was when he allowed 2 runs against Detroit on August 12th. So in 62 games on the season, he allowed more than one earned run just 5 times, but he posted a 4.03 ERA on the season, really a lot more solid season than the raw ERA number would show.
Belisle is not a heavy strikeout guy, but he uses a hard sinker to generate weak contact out of the bullpen. He’s going to be 38 mid-way through 2018, and he’s not an elite velocity reliever, but if the price was right, I could see the Twins possibly bringing Belisle back as a familiar veteran with the young arms that will likely comprise most of the 2018 Minnesota Twins bullpen. He made $2.05M this season, and if he was available for under $4M, that’d likely be a quality number to bring him back.
Next: Mid-year flex option