Bartolo Colon showed on Friday he still has what it takes to win
It hasn’t been a great season for Bartolo Colon by any stretch of the imagination.
The one time Opening Day starter for the Mets finds himself as close to being a spare part as he can just 4 1/2 months later. He’s allowed a league-high 162 hits in 141 1/3 innings in 2015, while pitching to a 4.58 ERA and a 10-11 record. He has struggled more often than he would’ve liked and the team would’ve liked, having allowed four or more earned runs in nine of his 23 starts so far this season.
So it makes it more important for the Mets to take advantage of the times Colon does pitched well, and on Friday night against the Pirates, he did just that, allowing only a single run in seven innings.
“He pitched very good,’’ Terry Collins said. “After the home run, nothing seems to affect him. He went back and made pitches and certainly got us where we needed to be: Deep in the game, tied or ahead.
“With the way our bullpen’s been pitching, you like the situation,” the manager said.
Colon allowed only a solo home run to Neil Waker in the first inning.
“I was trying to get ahead in the count and the pitch ran inside to his kitchen where he likes it,” Colon explained about the home run. “He put a good swing on it and hit the ball out of the park. When you make mistakes, you pay the price. But it was a good outing, and I gave the team a chance to win.’’
He did, but unfortunately, the Mets offered Colon very little run support on Friday, and he was forced to settle for a no-decision.
But while on-lookers have questioned how much Colon has left in the tank, it’s clear his success and failures are still a matter of fastball location. When he’s on – like he was on Friday – he’s keeping his two-seamer down and on the corners. In this particular game, he had some extra downward movement on the two-seamer, which gave it a heavier look than it normally has.
He also incorporated his slider a little more often as well on Friday night. That’s something he may need to consider since he throws so many strikes with his fastball, as if he’s the slightest bit off with that pitch, he needs something else to turn to.
The slider was an effective weapon for him, and it gave the Pirates something else to think about in every sequence.
“He’s a competitor. He’s a craftsman,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
A craftsman who seems to be infrequently rewarded when he does turn in a solid outing, as he did on Friday night.
The Mets are now 5-5 in games when Colon has allowed two earned runs or less in a start.
It’s not clear how Colon might be utilized should the Mets make the playoffs. Ideally, the Mets would go with only four starting pitchers in any short series, and those four right now would presumably be Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and either Jon Niese or Steven Matz. That would leave Colon on the outside looking in rotation-wise, and it’s hard to envision he could provide much value in relief at this stage of his career.
Still, if the Mets are going to get to the postseason, Colon is going to play a major role in getting there. And it’s starts like this which indicate he still has plenty in the tank to contribute towards winning, and that should ultimately pay the dividends the Mets will need to get to where they want to be.