9/8/2013 4:35 P.M. ET
Belisle believes slump due to familiarity, not fatigue
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
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."
Winning comes over enjoyment for focused Weiss
SAN DIEGO -- Ask Rockies first-year manager Walt Weiss how much he is enjoying the job, and he pauses and chuckles.
He says the question comes his way a lot. It's understandable. He gave up coaching his son at Regis Jesuit Academy near Denver to accept a one-year contract to run a Rockies team that finished 2012 last in the National League West, and is struggling again.
Each time he is asked, Weiss has to stop and think, but it's not because he has to think of the way to give an answer. He hesitates because he's not wired to answer that question.
"It's a tough question to answer, but I don't know if I necessarily really look for enjoyment," Weiss said. "I'm looking to take our best shot to win a game that day. I don't get caught up in enjoyment. I enjoy being around our guys. I enjoy being part of a team. I enjoy the leadership aspect of it. But I don't come to the park looking for enjoyment.
"That goes along with it, because it's fun to be a part of a club, especially at this level. But my focus is just taking our best shot every day."
Weiss' traits as a player for 14 years in the Majors were the qualities that led the Rockies to make him the sixth manager in their history, and he's as advertised. He's a kind of guy who's totally devoted to trying to win the day's game.
One adjustment has been learning to take the long-term view of a rough season. The Rockies were 11 games below .500 going into Sunday's contest with the Padres. But Weiss sees a lot to like.
"A lot of good things have happened coming off a really difficult year last year," Weiss said. "There's some definite signs of progress. We're not there yet. But we're certainly headed in the right direction. Look at our pitching, how much it has improved from last year to this year, how much the defense has improved.
"What's been tough is when our frontline guys, our horses, have gotten hurt, we've struggled. That's the case with most teams. Some teams maybe have the resources to be able to cover when some of the horses go down. At the same time, it's given our young guys an opportunity to show their skills and a lot of them have shown up really well."
So Weiss is a guy too busy trying to win to stop and enjoy things all that often.
"I enjoy it when we win. I like the fact I'm part of a team trying to win Major League Baseball games. That's the enjoyment for me," he said. "That's the easiest way for me to put it. Losses are tough. Losses should always be tough. But trying to win big league games with our club every night, that's what's fun."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.