Bartolo Colon’s versatility could have significant value for the Mets come October
A win for Bartolo Colon on Tuesday would’ve tied him with Pedro Martinez for second among Dominican-born pitchers in baseball history.
Unfortunately, Colon was unable to come up with the victory, and that chance might not come again until 2016, whether it’s with the Mets or elsewhere.
Colon allowed a three-run home run to Darin Ruf in the first inning, although that was all he would allow in five innings on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
Colon is up against Steven Matz for the fourth starter spot in the postseason rotation, a situation the Mets insist remains unresolved with five games to go in the regular season.
But Matz had a sore right side muscle on Tuesday thanks to a poor night’s sleep, creating some concerns about his postseason availability.
That could be where Colon comes in – as the contingency to Matz.
“I think we’re fairly certain on three and we’ll figure out the fourth here as we get closer to the playoffs. Anything we decide now is tentative based on what happens,” Sandy Alderson said before Tuesday’s game.
The Mets and Matz downplayed the injury early Tuesday – for now, Matz has been pushed back to pitch on Thursday against the Phillies, weather permitting.
As for Colon, the Mets certainly know what they’re going to get in the 42-year-old right-hander, and Collins is pleased with the way Colon has pitched over the last month.
Colon has a 2.03 ERA in his last eight appearances, which also includes one scoreless inning of relief against the Red Sox on August 29. His 14 wins are the most on the Mets pitching staff in 2015, as are his 29 wins over the last two seasons.
“I think he is pitching pretty good lately,” Collins said, before rattling off the attributes Colon would bring to the playoff rotation. “You know one thing, you know he is not going to walk anybody.
“He knows what he is doing, been out there and done it,” Collins continued. “You feel confident, when he is out there the environment, the surroundings won’t bother him a lick.”
That might not be enough for him to earn a spot in the postseason rotation, however.
The problem with Colon, of course, is there’s a fine line between what makes Colon effective and what makes him ineffective: the location of his two-seam fastball.
On Tuesday, it was the best of times and the worst of times for Colon, as the location of his two-seamer was up and floating over the middle of the plate in the first two innings.
But in the final three innings of his outing, Colon resembled the pitcher the Mets would need him to be in the playoffs, whether he’s a starter or a reliever, as his two-seamer was dancing down and on the corner, and he was inducing quick outs while throwing strike after strike.
But his versatility, experience, calm demeanor and reasonable expectations could warrant a spot in the bullpen next month.
As such, the Mets appear to be preparing Colon for a relief role, as he will likely be lifted from the rotation and not make a start on regular rest on Sunday, the final game of the regular season.
He could make an appearance in relief against the Nationals, however.
But personally for Colon, he would like to get the opportunity to catch Martinez.
“It’s really significant for me,” Colon said after the loss on Tuesday. “It would mean a lot for me to be tied with Pedro for the second-most wins for a Dominican player. But even though I would be there with Pedro … Pedro was a better pitcher than me.”