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The frustrating season of Ronald Belisario

September 29, 2010 | 10:29 am

Jonathan Broxton’s second-half meltdown has been so staggering, it’s managed to overshadow an equally puzzling decline.

What in the name of Joe Charboneau happened to Ronald Belisario this season?

So completely nasty last season, so cover-the-eyes unpredictable this year.

Last season he was a bullpen godsend, a career minor leaguer who showed up late to camp and at age 26 made the club. And then became a dominant set-up man, posting a 2.04 ERA in 69 appearances.

This year he owns a 5.06 ERA. And that’s actually down from his 5.64 ERA on Sept. 1.

He joins Ramon Troncoso, George Sherrill, Jeff Weaver and Broxton in forming a bullpen reversal that killed the Dodgers all season.

Belisario has gone from rookie sensation to sophomore letdown. And seemingly he is the cause of his own undoing.

His season began poorly when he missed training camp because he had trouble obtaining a visa over a DUI arrest last summer. He missed the first two weeks of the season and then struggled. He had a 7.20 ERA in his first 16 appearances.

But then seemingly in shape, he seemed to turn it around. Over his next 19 appearances, he had a 1.31 ERA. Belisario appeared back.

Until he vanished in the night.

Without explanation from either him or the club. His agent said it was for personal reasons, and that was all that was ever offered. The Times, however, reported he left the team to receive treatment in a substance abuse program.

He returned on Aug. 10 after being gone for over a month. In his next 13 appearances, he had a 13.00 ERA.

Belisario seemed back on track in September, but Tuesday he relieved Hiroki Kuroda and gave up a wild pitch and a two-run homer to Dexter Fowler that tied the game. When the Dodgers rallied the next inning, he was actually credited with an unsightly victory.

In a year of frustrating performances, it can be easy to overlook Belisario’s up-and-down season. Yet it remains highly disappointing and has left the Dodgers unable to count on him next season. They can hope he returns to form, but they can’t count on it.

-- Steve Dilbeck