Earlier this morning, the Columbus Clippers, Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate, announced that former Twins reliever Matt Belisle had been released. Just hours later, the Twins then announced that he had become current Twins reliever Matt Belisle as he was signed to a major league contract, while designating utility infielder Gregorio Petit for assignment.
Belisle started the 2018 season with Cleveland and was rather mediocre, chalking up a 5.06 ERA and just 4 strikeouts in 8 appearances that spanned 10 2⁄3 innings. (It should be noted that all 6 of his runs allowed occurred in 3 appearances). He was designated for assignment in early May and stuck around in the organization before being granted his release today.
As you likely recall, Belisle pitched for the Twins last season, starting in a middle relief and setup role before taking over the closer’s job when Brandon Kintzler was traded to Washington. The start of his 2017 season was disastrous but Derek Falvey and Thad Levine stuck with him and were rewarded for their patience as he became much better over the second half of the year.
Certainly the presence of Belisle is to lessen the workloads on fellow righthanders Addison Reed, Trevor Hildenberger, and Ryan Pressley. However, it’s a little quizzical that the front office was so quick to bring him in when Alan Busenitz (31% strikeout rate, 0.38 ERA, 1.76 FIP) and John Curtiss (33.7% strikeout rate, 1.61 ERA, 2.63 FIP) are dominating Triple-A. This is likely a case of Falvey/Levine wanting Belisle’s veteran presence (veteran presents?) while Busenitz and Curtiss are still rather green.
As for Petit, he was a negligible backup infielder who will not be missed. He had 12 appearances (8 starts) since having his contract purchased on May 1st and was used mainly to pinch-run and to give Ehire Adrianza breaks at shortstop. Though he was hitting .308, it came with a .400 BABIP and absolutely no power (0 extra-base hits) so he wasn’t justifying his place on the roster.