Belisle struck out two in a perfect ninth inning for his ninth save Friday against Detroit. Belisle has blown two saves in his 17 games as Twins closer since the Brandon Kintzler trade. A solid 17:3 K:BB supports his 2.70 ERA, and he has been solid enough in a new role for the Twins to trust him as closer as they head into the playoffs. With Minnesota clinching a postseason berth Friday night, it wouldn't be surprising if he rests the last two regular-season contests to stay fresh for the upcoming wild-card game.
Belisle picked up his eighth save Tuesday by tossing a spotless ninth against the Indians. Starter Bartolo Colon left the game after one inning with an illness, so this rapidly turned into a bullpen game, with Belisle the 10th pitcher deployed by manager Paul Molitor. A long-time middle-relief piece and occasional setup man, Belisle had just five saves in 13 seasons before 2017. However, he's been effective as the Twins' closer since the trade deadline, converting eight of 10 opportunities while allowing only five runs and 13 total baserunners in 16.2 innings. Belisle is set to close out the season with the ninth-inning role, but the 37-year-old righty probably won't carry it over to next year.
Manager Paul Molitor said it is "probably a good bet" that Belisle will be unavailable Friday, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Belisle threw 12 pitches Thursday after throwing 16 the day before, neither of which are extreme numbers. However, he did throw 1.2 innings Wednesday and blew a save Thursday, so it seems Molitor will avoid using him Friday if possible. Most of the Twins' top setup men also pitched both of the last two days, so there a number of ways Molitor could go if the Twins wind up in a save situation Friday night.
Belisle (2-2) pitched 1.2 scoreless innings without allowing a baserunner and was credited with the victory in Wednesday's win over San Diego. Dating back to securing his first save of the season Aug. 6, Belisle has been a valuable fantasy asset with two wins, seven saves, a 2.84 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 11.4 K/9. Those are strong numbers in all settings, and it helps his value that the Twins are making a strong push for a playoff berth.
Belisle struck out two in a clean ninth inning Friday for his seventh save. Belisle has a mediocre 4.36 ERA on the season, but he has performed admirably since taking over as closer in the wake of the Brandon Kintzler deal. He is now 7-for-8 in save opportunities with a 3.27 ERA and a nifty 16:3 K:BB over 11 innings, as he has stepped up just when the surging Twins needed him.
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