Sunday, July 10, 2016

N.Y. Mets: Bartolo Colon Never More Important to Amazin's Than Now

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Bartolo Colon's next appearance will be in the 2016 All-Star Game.
But if FIP stands for Fading Ineffective Pitcher, the Mets are in trouble.

NEW YORK METS: Was Big Sexy's latest regular season start an omen of things to come?

Prior to his arrival in Flushing, Bartolo Colon hadn't pitched 200 innings in a season since 2005 for the Los Angeles Angels.  

Despite turning 40 years old in 2013, he parlayed 30 starts and 190.1 innings pitched for the Oakland A's into a two-year pact with the Mets.

For a number of Mets fans, myself included, Bartolo Colon's price, age, and conditioning, were all immediate points of contention upon his signing here.

Colon went on to make 31 starts in 2014, and clock 202.1 innings pitched for the first time in nine years.  Last year's 33 appearances were likewise his most since the 2005 season. 

Signing another one year contract this past off-season ensured his ongoing swan song would continue playing out in Flushing.

He owns a 7-4 record so far this season, but was taken off the hook with a no decision after experiencing his worst start to date on July 7, in which he allowed the Washington Nationals six earned runs on ten hits (three home runs) in just 4.2 innings pitched.  That game caused his 2.87 ERA to spike to 3.28, which is still well below his combined 4.12 ERA during his first two seasons here.

Since 2014, Colon is 29-26 with a 3.96 ERA over 81 overall appearances and 495.2 innings pitched for the Mets.

Despite having his own professional and personal skeletons to speak of, in two and a half seasons he not only managed to flip naysayers like me, but actually became an endearing figure beyond being a consistently professional pitcher to behold.

The seemingly indefatigable Big Sexy turned 43 years old this season, and in short time will make the 500th appearance of his 19 year career.  He's presently sitting on 493 career appearances, and fast becoming the most important stud in the Mets stable.

Would the Mets be wise in regulating him to every sixth day for sake of maximizing any enduring effectiveness he has left?  I'm sure most would argue in favor of continuing along business as usual.   
In truth, Bartolo has so far made eight starts on five days rest, and eight starts on six days rest, and indeed nothing about his splits indicate a change is even warranted.  

So why do I feel Terry Collins would get a fresher, sharper Bartolo Colon, versus just some serviceable performer bridging games till the starting rotation circles back to Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard again - that pulling back just a little, will enable him to continue being a more effective work horse over a longer haul?

The Mets are in a bind with increasingly less margin for error ... or injury. 


For three seasons now, many fans have feared realizing Bartolo Colon's inevitable law of diminished returns.  So how much longer can this time bandit go?  Being a cult favorite is one matter ... continuing to defy conventional thinking is another.

He hasn't deviated much away from his career numbers.  There's one statistic, however, that has my attention.  After averaging a 3.65 FIP from 2011 through 2015, Colon's present 4.12 FIP is sitting at a six year high.  And after posting a +0.52 ERA/FIP differential in 2014, and a +0.32 differential last season, Colon has plummeted to a -0.84 this season, similarly a six year low.

That's all I got.  Quite obviously, there exist a great many more matters regarding what to do about the Mets suddenly plagued starting pitching than broached within this page.

Colon's next appearance will likely occur during his fourth ever All-Star game (in place of Madison Bumgarner) this upcoming Tuesday in San Diego.

After which, the season takes on much greater meaning, while play itself increases in intensity.

I once learned about the seven P's, that proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance.  

As it pertains to Bartolo Colon and the Mets, that phrase never rang more true.

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