Prior to the 2014 season, Jeff Beliveau wasn’t considered to be much more than bullpen depth at the Triple-A level and a perennial DFA candidate. However, we had little idea what was in store for him once the year began. Beliveau proceeded to enjoy a great season in the Tampa Bay Rays’ bullpen and earn a spot on the MLB All-Star roster that played against the Japanese All-Star team. This just goes to show us how sometimes players we don’t expect to be much can turn out to be quality pieces to success.
Beliveau’s arsenal consists of a low-90’s four seem fastball that has some late life due to his low, sidearm delivery. He throws a mid-70’s curveball that has some nice bite to it as well. He occasionally throws a changeup and slider as well, but those both need work. His arm angle is particularly tough for left-handed hitters to pick up.
Beliveau started the season in the minors and pitched very well. In 36 innings for the Durham Bulls he pitched to a solid 1.50 ERA, striking out 51 hitters while walking 14. He held opposing hitters to a .151 average against and recorded 11 saves in 12 save opportunities. After getting called up initially in April, Beliveau was called up for good at the end of July for an extended stint in the big leagues.
In his 30 appearances for the Rays in 2014, Beliveau threw 24 innings pitched, sported an ERA of 2.63 (FIP of 2.47), striking out 28 hitters while walking 7. Opposing hitters only hit .213 off of him and he was especially dominant against left-handed hitters, holding them to a .146 average. Beliveau also did a very good job of keeping the ball in the yard as he only allowed one home run despite a BABIP around the league average at .290.
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In 2015, Beliveau should be back in the Rays’ bullpen, likely as the LOOGY but with the ability to be possibly more. He definitely impressed in first extended stint in the big leagues and showed that his stuff was able to play well enough at the major league level, especially against lefties. At the very minimum, Beliveau should be a solid option out of the pen against left-handed hitters, but he showed the ability to get hitters from both sides out, and the Rays should continue to give him opportunities against righties as well.
One major highlight from this rough Rays season was that it allowed players like Beliveau and Kevin Kiermaier to get far more opportunities than they would have if the Rays were as healthy and as good as expected. Beliveau’s success shows that we never really know how good Quad-A players are until we really give them a few chances (although not all of them work out well–see Steve Geltz). All-in-all, Beliveau had a nice showing in the Rays’ bullpen in 2014 and should be ready for a more permanent role in 2015. His ability to get left handed hitters out makes him a nice bullpen piece for the Rays to have for 2015 and the years to follow.