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Ronald Belisario, Paco Rodriguez Key Los Angeles Dodgers' Bullpen Turnaround

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Ronald Belisario, Paco Rodriguez Key Los Angeles Dodgers' Bullpen Turnaround
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Ronald Belisario is having a solid season after a rough June.

COMMENTARY | Kenley Jansen gets most of the accolades among Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen arms -- and deservedly so.

I wanted to write something about him, but seemingly everyone on the Internet is writing about Jansen. So, I'm going with the two guys who get the ball to Jansen with the lead (most of the time) in Ronald Belisario and Paco Rodriguez.

Despite somewhat of a rough start to the season by the Los Angeles Dodgers' reliever, Belisario is probably manager Don Mattingly's "go to" guy after Jansen -- at least against righties.

Belisario has been a nice find for general manager Ned Colletti. Since Colletti signed the powerful righty in 2009, he has been nothing but solid. OK, he was pretty terrible in 2010 (5.04 ERA, 4.31 fielding independent pitching, -0.3 WAR), but his other seasons have been solid, bordering on great. This all while dealing with drug issues that kept him out of baseball for the entire 2011 season.

In April and May, Belisario's numbers looked really good, but the biggest blemish was he allowed far too many inherited runners to score. On the season, he's allowed 13 of 33 inherited runners to score. That number was a lot worse earlier this season.

Belisario is a little too hittable, giving up 55 in 51 2/3 innings. However, since June 16, he's been nearly lights-out. He owns a 0.87 ERA, .164 batting average against, and has allowed just 12 hits in 20 2/3 innings. He and Paco Rodriguez pair up to secure the Dodgers' during the seventh and eighth innings, when necessary.

Left-handed hitters still give Belisario problems, as they're hitting .311 against him this season. That's due to lacking a true strikeout pitch. His mid-90s sinker is nasty, but he doesn't have a plus slider or split-finger fastball to complement it. This is where Rodriguez comes in.

Rodriguez was the Dodgers' second-round selection in the 2012 MLB draft out of the University of Florida. He was the first player from that draft class to make the major leagues, and he's been dynamite in his young career.

He's much more than a left-handed specialist, and Mattingly is realizing this. Rodriguez gets right-handers out just as well as he gets left-handers out. Righties own a .147 batting average against him while lefties hit just .149. The on-base plus slugging percentage numbers are also nearly identical between righties (.421) and lefties (.420).

Rodriguez get the job done with his 87-91 mph fastball that he's thrown a lot more as the season progressed. He also has a nasty breaking ball that's a cross between a slider and curve ball. He also owns a cutter. While closer to a starter's repertoire than Belisario's, Rodriguez was never a starting pitching prospect.

Brandon League has faltered this season and the emergence of Belisario and Rodriguez has helped the Dodgers to one of the best backends of the bullpen in baseball (at least in the last couple months). Come playoff time, a 7-8-9 of Belisario-Rodriguez-Jansen is going to be awfully tough on opposing teams.

You hear the term "shorten the game" a lot, and it's even more important come October. With great starting pitchers in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, games could be pretty short and opportunities slim for other teams in the playoffs.

The Dodgers' bullpen has gone from a weakness to a strength, and it's thanks in large part to Belisario shoring up his stuff and Rodriguez getting a chance to pitch more. Oh, and Jansen is downright filthy. That always helps.

Dustin Nosler has followed the Dodgers from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Dodger blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.

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