This past Sunday, Bartolo Colon was sent to the mound with the expectation of providing the Yanks with some excellent solid decent degree of relief against the Tigers. I think nearly everyone in Yankeeland was rather astounded that his arm didn’t fall off in Spring Training—let alone that he was able to pitch well enough to legitimately vie for rotation consideration with Freddy Garcia—and wasn’t entirely sure what to reasonably expect during his first actual outing.
In Colon’s first official relief stint in pinstripes, he delivered four innings of less-than-masterful work resulting in four earned runs (“good” for a 9.00 ERA) which capped off a day highlighted by offensive proficiency from both organizations and overall pitching ineffectiveness (from both sides as well). With that being said, I wouldn’t suggest designating Colon for assignment just yet as some on ESPN Sports Talk Radio have absurdly recommended. Aside from the obvious fact that it was literally just one game and he very well could have been shaking off some rust after several days of rest, there were some positives to be gleaned under the surface of Sunday’s dented stat line.
For starters, he struck out five (two swinging) of the 19 batters he faced and walked only one. Of the 69 pitches he threw, 45 (or 65%) were strikes. Despite coming to camp noticeably out of shape, Colon managed to lessen some of the skepticism as he showed an ability to dig back for a little extra velocity. According to Fangraphs, 76.5% of his pitches were fastballs (as to be expected) and his average velocity hovered around 91.9 miles per hour which is certainly serviceable (assuming his arm remains in tact). Colon also managed to stymie a couple of seriously capable hitters in Miguel Cabrera (who up until that point had been leading his own personal offensive onslaught against Hughes and the Yankees pitching staff) and Victor Martinez. Alas, if only it weren’t for the Ramon Santiagos and Brennan Boeschs of the world, he might have escaped unscathed…
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not suggesting Colon pitched masterfully (opposing batters hit .353/.368/.588, .417 BABIP) by any extent of the imagination nor am I trying to hype him up into the next superstar; honestly, I’m not even sure he’ll ultimately pass the “better than Sergio Mitre” test in the long run. Realistically, the Yankees could have potentially won Sunday’s endeavor despite Phil Hughes throwing meatballs all afternoon. Rather, what I’m saying is in this very meager sampling, I saw some glimpses of potential in the peripheral stats, and I’m curious to see how he fares in his next appearance – even if the role is that of a mop-up man.
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