Bartolo Colon, the inspirational guidance counselor, and the team’s winningest pitcher
If only the Mets could face an National League East opponent in the playoffs. That way, Bartolo Colon would be an easy choice for a rotation spot.
Of course, there isn’t a single worthy contender for the playoffs outside of the Mets in their own division, which is partly why Colon and the rest of the Mets pitching staff have essentially dominated their infra-division rivals in 2015.
That theme continued for Colon and the Mets late Thursday on a rainy night in Atlanta. Even a two hour and twenty minute rain delay couldn’t stop that dominance.
Colon was brilliant for six innings as he dazzled the Braves with his two-seamer and change-up, cruising into the seventh inning with a four-run lead. It was his third consecutive start in which he’s pitched into the seventh inning or later, and he carried a 31 consecutive scoreless inning streak into the frame before he finally allowed a run.
He actually allowed two runs thanks to an RBI triple from Jace Peterson and an RBI single from Andrelton Simmons before Terry Collins pulled the plug on Colon’s night.
But the effort was good enough for Colon’s 14th win of the year and 13th win against only one loss against National League East opponents.
He’s 1-10 against the rest of the league.
“I’m really proud and surprised myself, because I didn’t know at this stage of my career I could still do this kind of stuff,” the 42-year-old right-handed said after improving to 14-11 this year. “I’m really happy Nd proud, but more importantly, I’m helping the team win.”
In watching him pitch and move around on the diamond and on the bases, onlookers might assume he’s 32 rather than 42. But the ageless veteran now owns a streak better than Cy Young (1909) and Warren Spahn (1963) – is 31 consecutive scoreless inning streak is the longest such streak for a pitcher 42-years-old and older.
That is not bad company at all.
In his last four outings, Colon has reduced his ERA from 4.90 to 4.13.
31 consecutive scoreless innings can be very healthy for an overall line.
“We are trying to shave innings off and he’s one guy you can just ride,” manager Terry Collins said about Colon after the win. ”
Indeed, Colon doesn’t have any innings limit tied to him. In fact, through the first six innings on Tuesday, it looked as though he could go another six or seven frames thanks to his remarkable efficiency and tempo from start to finish.
But he did begin to fade in the seventh inning as his fastball started coming up and the Braves began to take better swings against him. Collins asked for seven outs from his secondary arms in the bullpen, but both Dario Alvarez and Addison Reed seamlessly secured the Mets fourth win in a row to push the Nationals to a season-high 7 1/2 games behind the Mets with 22 games to play.
What might have been merely a pipe dream six weeks ago is becoming more and more of a reality as the calendar creeps closer to October. They can partially thank Colon for that not only for his recent performance, but also his infinite wisdom and guidance for the younger pitchers to get them to this point in the season.
Whether he has a role in a playoff rotation remains to be seen, but he continues to fulfill the role as the inspirational guidance counselor – and the team’s winningest pitcher – in an effort to get them to those playoff games.
After all, anyone who is fatigued physically or mentally should just watch the 42-year-old Colon pitch every five days.
That will wake anyone up this time of year.