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Ronald Belisario, Dodgers' bullpen savior?

May 06, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Hard-throwing reliever Ronald Belisario, shown in 2010, made his 2012 debut on Saturday.
Hard-throwing reliever Ronald Belisario, shown in 2010, made his 2012… (Bret Hartman / For The Times )

Yeah, right, there’s an outcome you’d best not tie your little playoff hopes to. The one thing Ronald Belisario has been the past two years is completely unreliable.

He’ll always have 2009, when he was an absolute stud (2.04 ERA, .201 opponent batting average), but since then he’s been all over the map, though largely in his native Venezuela.

There was a DUI arrest and visa problems, a trip to the restricted list for substance-abuse treatment, a positive cocaine test and more visa problems, and a 25-game suspension to start the season. Meanwhile, when last seen in 2010, his ERA had ballooned to 5.04.

He returned from his suspension Saturday, and for one inning on one afternoon, looked an awful lot like the 2009 version.

“His stuff has never really been in question,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “If he's throwing like that, it's a big bonus for us.”

The timing of his return is not lost on anyone following the Dodgers’ recent bullpen exploits, which is to say, it’s in need of some help. The bullpen's been uneven but has particularly struggled of late.

Overall, the Dodgers’ rotation has been impressive and has the No. 2 ERA in the majors at 2.99. Alas, the bullpen comes in 22nd with a 4.38 ERA. As Jon Weisman noted at Dodger Thoughts, five of the Dodgers’ last eight losses have come in the domain of the bullpen, in the ninth or 10th inning.

Though everyone in the bullpen has had rough stretches, most of the trouble has originated with Mike MacDougal (7.94 ERA), Todd Coffey (13.50, but in only 2 2/3 innings) and Scott Elbert (6.75). MacDougal’s struggles cost him and he was designated for assignment to make room for Belisario. Elbert, the only lefty in the bullpen, has allowed left-handed hitters to bat .429 (6 for 14).

If Belisario has grown up, become focused and really returned to form, it could prove one timely addition. Time will tell, of course. Meanwhile, it’s simply not something the Dodgers can count on.

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