June 5, 2017 – **UPDATE**
Bartolo Colon has another rough start against the Phillies, and Braves media and fans are speculating whether this could be his final start for Atlanta.
Original story written May 25, 2017
The numbers are ugly. Bartolo Colon and the Atlanta Braves faced the Pittsburgh Pirates this afternoon at Sun Trust Park and the Bucs had their way with the now 44-year old starter, as the Pirates defeated the Braves, 9-4. After today’s carnage (5 IP, 10H, 7ER, 3BB, 1K), Colon’s season record stands at 2-5, accompanied by a 6.96 ERA.
Colon has stumbled through most of his starts in 2017, and his stats for May have been particularly bad. He allowed 39 hits and 25 runs over 24 innings this month, and his trademark pinpoint control has wavered. Over the past month, Bartolo has allowed seven walks. This doesn’t look terrible on the surface, but for a pitcher like Colon, it’s an issue because he now barely reaches 90 mph, and he needs to be precise with his locations or he will get torched. In 2015 and 2016, Bartolo’s average BB/9 innings were 1.1 and 1.5, respectively. In 2017, it’s almost 2.4 BB/9 innings.
An examination of Colon’s stat line, illustrated above, shows he threw roughly 60% of his pitches for strikes and he walked three batters over five innings. A number of his other starts in ’17 have had similar results.
A pitcher with lower velocity can survive in the majors if he can locate his pitches, and Colon has proven it time and again over the years. No pitcher can survive long in the big leagues if he can’t locate, even those who reach the mid and upper 90’s.
Over his twenty year career, Bartolo Colon has logged more than 3,200 innings, almost 2,400 strikeouts and won 235 games. He’s wowed us older fans who remember his early years with the Indians when he could touch 100 mph routinely over the course of his starts. Colon persevered as he recovered from years of shoulder troubles and worked his way back in 2011, and transitioned to more of a finesse pitcher. He learned to win games with lesser stuff and pinpoint location, and won 82 games over the past seven seasons.
Whether Colon’s 20 year career will result in him being inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame is debatable, but this writer feels he should get serious consideration. If this season is the end of the line for Bartolo, then it’s been a hell of a ride and I’m glad I was able to see it.
And we’ll always have his home run off James Shields to look fondly back on! 😎
See you next time!