2013 Dodgers in Review #37: RP Ronald Belisario

90topps_ronaldbelisario3.97 ERA / 3.64 FIP 68 IP 6.49 K/9  3.71 BB/9 (D)

2013 in brief: Consistently inconsistent.

2014 status: Non-tendered, signed with the White Sox.

Previous: 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

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Everyone thank Weston for pitching in with a great job on reviewing Belisario. Thanks, Weston!

Ronald Belisario. Ronald freaking Belisario. Cocaine. Visa issues. ROOGY. Misused. Erratic reliever.

Belisario’s season story was just like that of the Dodgers’. Awful until the middle of June, very good until September, and then lackadaisical in the last month of the season. His season was so terribly bad and excellently good that he actually ended up with a WAR of zero.

April-June 12: 31 IP, 4.94 ERA, .333/.393/.481 against, 24/13 K/BB.

Now, I’m fully aware of reliever’s ERA and small sample sizes, but if this line isn’t a microcosm of this specific timeframe of the 2013 Dodgers’ season, I don’t know what is. Belisario was so awful at doing his job that the above line doesn’t even do him justice. According to B-ref, Belisario’s first SEVEN inherited runners came around to score. That helped to run his percentage of allowing inherited runners to score up to 58% (11 of 19). During this time frame, he blew four saves and allowed the only three home runs he would give up all year, ALL to right handers. One was a game-ending blast on a full count to Buster Posey, another was a game-tying bomb to Michael Cuddyer at Coors Field that allowed the Rockies to come back and win the game in extra innings, and the final one was given up to Dan Uggla that didn’t make any difference in an 8-1 loss to the #Barves.

During this half of the season, Belisario left 19 games with the Dodgers being worse off than when he entered. It got so bad that the running joke was “Oh good, here comes Belisario with two guys on. Looks like those guys will be scoring.” Even my own mom, a grown-up girl, lamented when Belisario came in, greeting him with jeers of “OH GOD HERE WE GO AGAIN”, “COME ON MATTINGLY! BELISARIO SUCKS”, and my personal favorite, “TAKE THAT IDIOT OUT OF THE GAME! WHY IS HE EVEN STILL ON THE TEAM!?” The worst part about all this? Oh, the part about it being reality and not just a dream.

Just when we all thought it couldn’t get any worse, well, it did. After his role in the infamous Ian Kennedy/Zack Greinke brawl on June 11, Belisario came on in relief the next day in the 11th inning with the game tied 4-4. His batter sequence went like this: 4-3 GO, BB, LO-7 (End 11), 2B, IF 1B, GR 2B, IBB, relieved by Brandon League. All four of the batters he faced in the 12th inning ended up scoring, and the Dodgers lost the game 6-8. Why is this important? Because the amount of earned runs that he gave up in this game would be more than the amount of earned runs that he would give up over his next 26 innings of work.

June 16-August 27: 25.2 IP, 1.05 ERA, .176/.272/.187 TSL, 22/8 K/BB

So over the next two and a half months, Belisario would do a complete 180 and TOTALLY REDEEM HIMSELF, at least for the time being. Also, OH MY GOD THE BRAWL WAS THE TURNING POINT FOR THE SEASON! Just kidding.

Anyway, during this hot streak, Belisario would allow only two(!) out of 17 inherited runners to score, and only one extra base hit (ONE EXTRA BASE HIT HOLY CRAP), a double given up on June 29 to lefty-hitting Laynce Nix, who was pinch-hitting for the right-handed John Mayberry. Hey, look! An intelligent managerial move!

If we could just extrapolate these two months over an entire season, the Dodgers wouldn’t have needed to even attempt to sign Brian Wilson. Unfortunately, Belisario is captain erratic, and as such, cannot be counted on to extend streaks of excellence.

The month of September: 11.1 IP, 7.94 ERA, .302/.400/.442 TSL, 3/7 K/BB.

Another month of extremes for Belisario. In September, he entered his highest leveraged situation all year (according to BBREF’s aLI) to get Hunter Pence to ground into a bases-loaded, inning-ending, double play (HA-HA, GNATS). In his own extreme-like fashion, he also allowed the highest amount of runs out of any of his appearances this year to (who else?) the Arizona Diamondbacks (it should be noted that in both of his horrible outings against the DBacks this season, he managed to get Goldschmidt out twice, yet let everyone else have their way with him. Everything this guy does makes no sense), leaving us all wondering if he should even be on the playoff roster.

Somewhat miraculously, he didn’t allow any inherited runners to score in the month of September (he actually only allowed 8% of his 24 inherited runners to score from June 16th on), but instead took matters into his own hands, giving up at least one run in five of his 13 appearances, and helping the team lose in two of them.

Overall, I thought Belisario was worth having in the bullpen, if only because when he was good, he was really good. I’m not sure why Chili Buss returns more recent search results on this site than Belisario, but it may be because when Belisario pitched and managed to screw something up, we all just accepted it and moved on with our lives, and the same went for when he came in and made even the best hitters look foolish. In his 2012 review, Mike highlighted Belisario’s roller coaster tendency, so it’s not like 2013 was anything new. Even when Belisario was pitching well, my ass cheeks were clamped, I was white knuckling the arm rests of my sofa, and holding my breath until he was either relieved or collecting high-fives for getting the final out.

Pass me the antacids and the drank. I’m gonna need them for Belisario’s 2014. I wrote that sentence before the Dodgers decided to non-tender him. When I announced that news to my household, mother Taylor responded with a derisive “GOOD!” I’m torn on the issue, mainly because there will be no more cocaine jokes, and the days of VND damning Don Mattingly for allowing him to pitch to left-handers are now behind us…

…until Tampa Bay resurrects his career six years from now and prompts Ned to give him a three-year deal. See you in 2021, Beli!

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Next! So long, Shawn Tolleson!

So Long, Ronald Belisario

belisario_dugout_yankees_2013-06-19

I’d been suggesting for a few days that it was no slam dunk that the Dodgers would tender a contract to Ronald Belisario, but even I didn’t expect that they’d actually take the step to cut him loose rather than pay him something like $2.3m in arbitration.

Tonight, that’s exactly what the Dodgers have done, announcing that Belisario was non-tendered after four seasons (over five years, of course) with the team. He was of course the height of inconsistency, putting up two good seasons (2009, 2012), one lousy (2010), and one mediocre (2013), while missing the 2011 campaign entirely.

He’s not someone you lose a lot of sleep over, of course, so I can’t get angsty about this either way. Still, the money is minimal for this team, and he didn’t allow an earned run in 58 of his 77 appearances (not, of course, that this is always the best way to judge a reliever). It’s still possible that he returns, but probably unlikely; he’ll be pitching in the bigs for someone next year.

In the meantime, the 40-man-roster is now down to 34, and the only seemingly guaranteed members of the bullpen are Kenley Jansen, Chris Withrow, and Paco Rodriguez. (Sigh, fine, and Brandon League.) That’s a pretty talented young trio to start with, but both Withrow and Rodriguez still have something to prove in 2014. You’ll see guys like Jose Dominguez and probably Onelki Garcia and Yimi Garcia at some point, but with J.P. Howell and Brian Wilson free agents, there’s suddenly a lot of work to do in the bullpen.

Anyway, so long, Ronald. We’ll always have memories, like that time you missed an entire season due to drug issues, or all the times you were late to camp, or when you did this:

Non-Tender Deadline Likely To Pass Quietly For Dodgers

belisario_2013-07-14

We interrupt a seemingly endless stream of 2013 reviews to point out that tonight at midnight eastern time is the non-tender deadline. What that means is that the Dodgers, and every other team, must tender a contract to their arbitration-eligible players, or else non-tender them and allow them to become a free agent.

Really, the only reason you wouldn’t tender an arbitration-eligible guy is if you think he’ll make more in arbitration than he’s worth, as we saw a few years ago when the uncertainty over Russell Martin‘s health and declining production as compared to increasing salary led to him being set free.

Since the Dodgers already took care of arbitration-eligibles Mike Baxter, Drew Butera, & Scott Elbert, they have four remaining players to handle — Clayton Kershaw, A.J. Ellis, Kenley Jansen, & Ronald Belisario. The first three are givens to be tendered today, and they’ll either be signed to contracts later this winter or play 2014 under whatever dollar figure they are awarded by the arbitrator. (Which rarely happens; the Dodgers almost always sign their players first, even if only to a one-year deal.)

Belisario is probably going to get tendered, but I’m not sure it’s a slam dunk. He’s projected to make about $2.3m, per MLB Trade Rumors, and there’s an argument to be made that you can easily replace his particular brand of inconsistency with minimum-salary options. That’s probably true, but then the Dodgers aren’t the kind of team to quibble over a million or two here and there, and it’s long been Ned Colletti’s style to keep control over as many players as possible.

If contracts aren’t agreed upon first, teams must exchange salary figures with arbitration players on January 17, and hearings are scheduled in early February.

Yankees 6, Dodgers 4: The Most Dodger Game Ever

belisario_error_yankees_2013-06-19Well, okay, I suppose the true “most Dodger game ever” is Clayton Kershaw giving up one unearned run in nine innings, but losing 1-0 because the offense couldn’t get anything on the board. But this feels pretty close, doesn’t it? Down 3-0 after six innings, they clawed their way back to relevancy by making it 3-2 on a sacrifice fly by A.J. Ellis and a single from Jerry Hairston.

That’s important, because if they hadn’t, whatever the hell this was from Ronald Belisario in the seventh might not have mattered so much:

Belisario proceeded to hit Thomas Neal in the helmet, at which point Don Mattingly mercifully lifted him in favor of Paco Rodriguez. Ichiro Suzuki lifted a bloop single down the left field line to score two, giving the Yankees a 6-2 lead.

So what made it the most Dodger game ever, other than that Belisario disaster? They made four errors on the day — the other two both from Skip Schumaker — and wasted a superlative offensive performance from Hanley Ramirez, who had four hits, including a laser beam homer in the eighth to make the final score look a whole lot closer than it was. That makes Belisario’s mess something of the margin of victory and… well, I don’t really want to talk about it any more.

We did at least see Yasiel Puig turn a routine single up the middle into a double — that’s a real thing — and face off against the immortal Mariano Rivera in the ninth, striking out. But still, an ugly game on an otherwise beautiful day.

Oh, and they play again in 2.5 hours. Wonderful?

Orioles 7, Dodgers 5: That’s Five Losses In a Row

belisario_baltimore_2013-04-20I’d love to tell you that I know what’s wrong with Ronald Belisario these days, but I can’t. With one out and a man on second in a tied game in the eighth inning, he entered and promptly allowed the game to get blown open on a walk, a passed ball (much more on Ramon Hernandez, of course), and then, after an intentional walk, gave up a double to Nolan Reimold, scoring two. Only five of his 16 pitches were strikes, and he’s now allowed every inherited runner to score this year. He’s almost the new Mike MacDougal, except that his pitches still have so much movement on them that I can’t imagine how anyone actually hits him.

Belisario’s failure ended an up-and-down affair that began with the Dodgers blowing a 4-0 lead that got started on Andre Ethier‘s three-run blast in the first. If you’re just going by the box score, it’s probably going to look like Hyun-jin Ryu tossed out a stinker, allowing eight hits and five earned runs — along with homers from both J.J. Hardy & Reimold – in six innings, but it never really felt that way. Ryu struck out six, and the runs all being earned is somewhat of a result of charitable hometown scoring, since Ethier clearly booted a catchable sinking liner in the sixth.

As for the rest of the offense, Matt Kemp had something of a breakout with three hits and his first stolen base — though the last two were both infield hits that may have traveled a combined 50 feet — while the 6-9 of Hernandez, Skip Schumaker, Luis Cruz, & Justin Sellers had one hit and two walks in 16 plate appearances. Hanley Ramirez can’t come back soon enough, and I’m no longer sure that Sellers is the one leaving rather than Cruz.

As you might expect, a loss like this lands a lot of blame on the manager, and in my opinion Don Mattingly‘s performance was mixed. I actually quite liked his decision to bring Kenley Jansen into a tied game in the seventh against the top of the Baltimore lineup, and also to bring Jansen back for a second frame. After all, one of the few ways we’ve been able to rationalize Brandon League being the closer is that it frees Jansen up for more important work, so credit there.

I didn’t so much mind removing Jansen for Paco Rodriguez with Chris Davis coming up — I know many disagree with me — yet I did find his inaction in the eighth inning troublesome. In a tie game, Skip Schumaker (who can’t hit lefties) was allowed to ground out against Brian Matusz (who is death on lefties) rather than call on Jerry Hairston. After Cruz was, mercifully, hit by a pitch, switch-hitter Nick Punto sat on the bench while Justin Sellers popped out weakly against righty sidearmer Darren O’Day.

Game two starts in about three hours at 4pm PT, with Josh Beckett on the hill. I cannot express enough how badly the Dodgers need to come away with a split today; they’ve won just once since Zack Greinke was injured.