Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Colorado Rockies continue to get quiet contributions from Matt Belisle

Matt Belisle has been extremely good for the Rockies.
The Colorado Rockies won their first series at home since the first weekend in June, barely holding on to an 8-6 victory on Tuesday night.

The fact that the Rockies haven't won a series at home since June is enough of a statement itself of the 2012 season. The victory on Tuesday night ended up being a nail-biter after nearly blowing an 8-2 lead in the final three innings.

All of the highlights will show Rafael Betancourt facing Ryan Braun with two men on in the 9th inning. However, the game was won in the 8th inning with Matt Belisle on the mound.

The dependable righty came into the game with two men on and one out. The first thing Belisle did was work Ricky Weeks into hitting a ground ball that rookie Josh Rutledge made a good play on to get before it rolled into left field. However, he turned and threw to second base, pulling DJ LeMahieu off the bag, loading the bases for the Brewers two best hitters, Braun and Aramis Ramirez.

Instead of allowing the error to get to him and let the inning get out of control, Belisle did what he does best. He settled in and threw strikes, challenging both Braun and Ramirez. That confidence resulted in two consecutive strikeouts, leaving the Brewers scoreless in the inning.

When Rex Brothers imploded in the 9th inning, giving up three runs without recording an out, suddenly Belisle's work became much more important than it looked the previous inning. Betancourt came in and gave up a couple of hits, which required him to get a Braun pop-out with two one to record his 21st save of the season.

As the Rockies approached the July 31st trade deadline, Belisle's name seemed to come up frequently. Many teams were interested in the righty. For the Rockies, clearly in rebuilding mode, it had to be difficult not to entertain offers. Belisle could easily bring back a good prospect, especially from a team in desperate need for back-end bullpen help.

With his value high, the Rockies wisely decide to hang on to their valuable bullpen pitcher. The fact is, the Rockies are done in 2012. They are looking to the future. However, dealing a pitcher of Belisle's ilk is a mistake because he is a guy who can help the team make a quick turnaround. He is part of the solution, not a part of the problem.

When teams trade a player like Belisle, there is instantly a hole where they once were so consistent. A guy in Belisle's role is easy to take for granted. He comes in, does his job, and quietly walks back to the dugout, only to get called back to the mound the next day. For teams with a guy like him, the old saying is the perfect way to describe him--'you don't know what you got until it's gone."

The issue with the Rockies in 2012 has been starting pitching. The bullpen has held up surprisingly well, especially considering the work load that they have been forced to take on their shoulders due to ineffectiveness and confusing front office theories.

If Belisle was gone, the Rockies would be searching desperately for a guy who could fill his role. They would be looking for a guy who has the ability to throw strikes, keep the ball in the ballpark, and work day after day after day without needing time off.

The fact is, Matt Belisle may be one of the most underrated middle relievers in the game, and he happens to pitch well both at Coors Field and on the road. The Rockies have a real gem with him in their arsenal.

The Rockies look for the sweep on Wednesday afternoon. They can continue making a statement that they aren't going to settle for having a terrible season and move forward, they can make the statement that they are going to get better in 2012.

Players like Eric Young, Jr. continue to make a push for being better. The speedster didn't need his wheels in the 6th inning when he absolutely crushed a home run off of the facing of the second deck in right field above the visitors bullpen. It was one of three hits that Young recorded on Tuesday night, raising his average to .318. With his play, it is going to be nearly impossible to remove him from the starting lineup. He simply continues to show that he has figured it out, and his speed makes him a valuable weapon.

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