Belisle believes slump due to familiarity, not fatigue
SAN DIEGO -- Rockies durable reliever Matt Belisle insists his recent slump has nothing to do with fatigue, but familiarity.
In his last four outings, including Saturday when he gave up Jedd Gyorko's eighth-inning, go-ahead homer in the Padres' 2-1 victory, he has given up 12 hits and seven runs (six earned) in just 3 1/3 innings.
Belisle's 295 appearances over the last three years are the most of any pitcher in the Majors. Could that mean fatigue? Yes, and Belisle's velocity has dropped some this season. But it also means hitters, especially those in the National League West, see quite a bit of Belisle. That's his focus when it comes to his difficulties.
The last three games have come against division opponents -- the Dodgers twice and the Padres.
"I'm completely honest in saying it's not physical fatigue," Belisle said. "It's always where I am at mentally. I also look at where I have been getting hit and who's been hitting me. And I think that sometimes, getting back into the division, maybe I have become too predictable with patterns."
Manager Walt Weiss believes Belisle is onto something.
"I'm sure the scouting reports, they get pretty accurate after you've seen guys a number of times," Weiss said. "Last night, a first-pitch fastball to a guy that can hit the ball out of the park to all fields, he went after that ball like he had a pretty good idea that's where it was going."
Belisle, whose 4.50 ERA in 65 games this season is significantly higher than his figure in 2011 (3.25) and 2012 (3.50), actually has decent numbers against the NL West -- 2-2, 3.62 ERA, .254 batting average against. But he is taking note of the recent troublesome outings. He also also said pitching coach Jim Wright noticed some delivery flaws that he'll address.
The pitch Gyorko hit out was a 91-mph fastball. In past seasons, Belisle's fastball has often been in the 94-mph range. But Belisle said there have always been variances in how he feels on a given day, but he should be able to calibrate his pitching plan based on how he feels.
Belisle is in a contract year. He and the Rockies will have to decide on a mutual option valued at $4.25 million. Although Weiss constantly says he trusts Belisle late with a lead, there have been no discussions about whether the club will pick up the option. Belisle wants to return.
"I would be lying if I said I didn't think about it earlier, or at times," Belisle said. "This has been a different season for me. But again, I thrive on the pressure I put on myself. I thrive on situations. I guess I create certain pressures on my own. There is no doubt that I'll give my all to this, because I love where I'm at and I want to be here."
Whatever issues he's battling, Belisle makes no excuses.
"This is more opportunity than it is despair and worry and all of that stuff that a loser would be talking about," Belisle said. "To me, this just a reminder of how bad I want this, how good I am, and it's an opportunity to make some adjustments.
"I want to finish strong in September and come out next year, guns blazing, because I'm not happy with how this is going, as a team and especially myself."