After a long history of personal problems, Ronald Belisario put it all behind him and had an outstanding 2012 season.
Belisario has had immigration issues with his visa since his first days with the Dodgers back in 2009. He missed all of the 2011 season because of similar issues in his native Venezuela. He also started out 2012 on a sour note, serving out a 25-game suspension for testing positive for cocaine.
However, Belisario quickly reasserted himself, throwing scoreless relief in his first nine appearances of the year. Belisario was arguably the Dodgers most consistent man out of the bullpen last season, leading all Dodgers’ relievers in appearances this year.
Belisario had a season-high streak of 17 consecutive appearances where he did not give up an earned run.
The Numbers: 8-1, 2.54 ERA, 69:29 K/BB, 71.0 IP, 1.07 WHIP, 68 games
Belisario made a quick return to the Dodgers bullpen after serving out his suspension and Don Mattingly quickly learned to trust him with the lead in the 7th and 8th innings.
Belisario tied for 11th in the National League with 23 holds. Belisario led all Dodgers relievers in appearances and innings pitched. Belisario also set career highs in wins, strikeouts, innings pitched and WHIP.
June 4 vs. Phillies – Belisario pitched a 1-2-3 8th inning in a 3-3 tie and got his first win of the year thanks to a go-ahead single by Elian Herrera in the 9th inning. Belisario had given up only 2 earned runs in 14.1 innings of work at this point.
July 16 vs. Phillies – Belisario entered the ninth inning with the Dodgers trailing 3-2 and struck out the side. It was more than two months into the season and Belisario was sporting a 1.67 ERA.
Aug. 29 vs. Rockies – After the Dodgers blew a 10-1 lead, Belisario recorded five outs and notched his only save of the year, buckling down and preserving a 10-8 win for the Dodgers.
Sept. 21 vs. Reds – Belisario recorded six consecutive outs in the 8th and 9th innings of a 1-1 tie and matched a career high with five strikeouts. Matt Kemp delivered a clutch home run in the 10th inning and Belisario got his 8th win of the year.
Belisario made $480,000 this year. He is eligible for salary arbitration and should receive a nice jump in salary after re-establishing himself as a reliable setup man. It would make sense for the Dodgers to retain Belisario as he appears to have put his past personal issues behind him.
The bullpen is one area that may be uncertain for the Dodgers. Brandon League, Randy Choate and Jamey Wright are all free agents and Kenley Jansen is due to undergo another heart operation in the off-season for his irregular heartbeat. Chances are Belisario could again be the Dodgers go-to guy out of the ‘pen in 2013.
Belisario will turn 30 on New Years’ Eve.