2012 in brief: After missing all of 2011 and the first month of 2012, actually managed to stay on the roster all year without getting in to further trouble. Oh, and he was a pretty effective reliever while doing it, too.
2013 status: Eligible for arbitration for the first time as a “Super Two” and should be mainstay of bullpen if he can manage to stay out of trouble again.
I’m really not sure if it can be overstated how little we expected from Ronald Belisario after a bizarre 2011 in which he missed the entire season. But Belisario sorted out his issues and actually made it to Arizona weeks ahead of camp — frankly, I’m not sure why he ever leaves at this point — and when it came out that he’d be suspended for the first 25 games of the season, I actually thought it was a good thing, since it’d give the Dodgers time to sort out a crowded bullpen and see what Belisario could offer.
I have no idea what kind of Ronald Belisario we’re going to see now that he’s been reinstated from the suspended list. The out-of-nowhere 2009 sensation? The 2010 disappointment who wasn’t great but wasn’t really as bad as people remember? The total flakewad who missed 2011 entirely? But I do know this: simply because he’s here and he exists, we no longer have to suffer the wrath of Mike MacDougal, DFA’d by the Dodgers today to make room.
Belisario made his debut in Chicago on May 5 and picked up right where he left off, not allowing a run in any of his first nine outings. In June, he pitched 12 innings and allowed just four hits and a single run, and though the 1.53 ERA he took into the All-Star break was fantastic, it wasn’t entirely without some concern:
Ronald Belisario (A+)
I mean, A for still being in the country. A for not being in prison. A for still being alive, probably. A for not being injured. A-plus for not only being on the team, but for being an invaluable member of the bullpen. I’m both terrified by his .176 BABIP and fascinated that his bowling ball heater results in such poor contact that it’s the third lowest figure in baseball. Good to have you back, you big weirdo.
That fall back to earth came quickly, because July was nothing short of a disaster for Belisario; of the 20 earned runs he allowed all season, 11 came in July alone — despite it being the month with the fewest games. (Oddly, his 4.25 K/BB in July was the best mark of his entire season.) In a stretch of 11 innings between July 8-31, he allowed 17 baserunners and saw his ERA rocket from 0.95 to 3.20, poor enough that when Randy Choate was added, I was openly floating the idea of a DL stint for Belisario just to give him a breather.
That didn’t happen, of course, and Belisario rebounded nicely down the stretch, putting up a 36/13 K/BB in 31.2 innings after August 1. On the whole, Belisario’s 2012 was the best of his three major league seasons, and while he can still never be counted on — especially after reportedly getting kicked off his winter league team — if he’s available, he’s a cheap and effective setup man who provides real value.
Next up! Get out your bunting shoes, it’s Don Mattingly!