St. Louis Cardinals Place Matt Belisle on Disabled List, Recall Marcus Hatley


The St. Louis Cardinals were forced to make an adjustment to their bullpen on Tuesday, placing righthanded reliever Matt Belisle on the disabled list with elbow inflammation and purchasing the contract of righty reliever Marcus Hatley from Triple-A Memphis. To make room for Hatley, who was not on the 40-man roster, the Cardinals moved reliever Jordan Walden to the 60-day DL. The transfer of Walden is purely a procedural move and will not have any bearing on his ability to return, as he’s already missed 60 days since his last appearance, which came on April 29.

While Belisle has pitched in a lot of low pressure and mop-up situations this year, he’s been a very effective addition to the bullpen after coming over from the Colorado Rockies this offseason. In 30 games spanning exactly 30 innings, Belisle has a 3.00 ERA, though his opponent batting average (.284) and WHIP (1.53) are not as attractive as his on-field success would indicate. He last pitched on June 25 at Miami.

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There was no detail given with Belisle’s Tuesday diagnosis, but just based on the terminology, there should be concern. It’s never a good sign to hear the term “elbow inflammation” with pitchers, as it often means that the pitcher is destined for Tommy John surgery, which repairs a ruptured ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow. Unlike many relievers who have pitched in the big leagues as long as he has, the 35-year-old Belisle has never had a Tommy John operation, which would vastly improve his outlook for a return should that ultimately be the diagnosis.

The 27-year-old Hatley, meanwhile, will finally make his major-league debut after spending nine seasons in the minor leagues. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound reliever has been one of the most consistent options out of Memphis’s bullpen this year, going 4-2 with a 1.69 ERA, a .222 opponent batting average, and a 1.21 WHIP over 27 appearances spanning 37.1 innings. Hatley also has three saves in four opportunities.

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Hatley was signed as a minor-league free agent this offseason after having been with the Chicago Cubs organization since they drafted him in 2006. He pitched in eight spring training games for the big club this spring, throwing for a 2.70 ERA, a .200 opponent batting average, and a 0.90 WHIP over 6.2 innings.

The decision to add Hatley to the roster rather than just bringing back righty reliever Mitch Harris is seemingly a testament to how far Harris has fallen down the organizational depth chart recently. Harris, the first graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy to pitch in the major leagues in roughly 100 years, began his big-league career with seven straight scoreless outings and was placed into some pressure situations in May. After enduring a mid-May stretch in which he allowed seven earned runs over 6.1 innings, however, Harris fell out of favor and ended up being demoted to Triple-A on June 19.

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