Are The Mariners Overlooking Free Agent Reliever Matt Belisle?
By Adam Levi
Many teams aside from the Mariners are probably mulling over the same question: should they sign the thirty-six-year-old free agent right-hander Matt Belisle?
It’s not often that a pitcher who is in his mid-thirties, going into his fourteenth year in the league can say he’s coming off the best season of his career; Matt Belisle is one of those guys.
Last season, at the age of thirty-six. Belisle game one of two hundred and seventy-three men in the modern era to pitch at least forty-six innings coming out of the bullpen at that age or later in life. Furthermore, his ERA of 1.76 was the tenth best ERA for a reliever
Furthermore, his ERA of 1.76 was the tenth best ERA for a reliever since 1901 sticking with the same innings pitch caveat. Not even the great Dennis Eckersley or Trevor Hoffman reached such epic numbers.
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More remarkably, Belisle is one of only eleven men in the modern era to record an ERA under two at his age or later -of those eleven relievers, three of them are hall of famers (John Smoltz, Hoyt Wilhelm, and Dennis Eckersley).
So where do the Mariners fit in with all of this? Well, if you’re a team like the Mariners looking for a solid pitcher who comes at a reasonable price -anywhere from one to five million dollars per season- than Belisle is your guy.
His career ERA of 4.20 may seem a little high, but in 2015 he began to turn his game around at the beginning of his twilight years. That season he boasted a 2.67 earned run average and an HR/9 of 0.3.
This past season, Belisle one-upped himself, setting that aforementioned career-best ERA of 1.76 with the Washington Nationals with a WHIP of 1.087.
Next: Mariners #2 Prospect Kyle Lewis
Whatever Belisle has done to play like an ace despite his years piling up, it’s worked amazingly for him, and it could work well for the Mariners too if they decide to give the man who seems to have drank from the fountain of youth a chance.