As many have noted, something seemed off with Bartolo Colon‘s non-performance against the Blue Jays last night. After the game, Colon himself noted that he doesn’t have complete confidence in his leg, and if that is indeed the case it sounds like he could use some additional time to heal from the pulled hamstring suffered on June 11.
It wasn’t difficult to see that Colon was missing his spots last night, but I wanted to take a look and see where exactly he was locating in comparison to his previous outings, and so I’ve created a couple of charts to show what Colon’s average H-break and V-break were for his three primary pitches between the beginning of the season and his injury (3/31/2011 – 6/11/2011), and his three subsequent starts since returning from the DL. (Data from Brooks and Texas Leaguers).
Based on his results from the first few months of the season, Colon’s four-seamer needs nearly 10 inches of rise to be as effective as possible, and he hasn’t gotten it that high since returning. He lost about two inches of rise in his starts against the Mets and Rays, while the pitch became essentially useless against the Blue Jays, with a scant 5 inches of vertical break. Horizontally he’s been pretty consistent on throwing it inside to righties.
He doesn’t throw the slider that often, but based on H-break it looks like it was catching too much of the plate in last night’s game and also dropping more than three inches lower than it had been during Colon’s awesome months.
Like his Four-Seamer, Colon’s Two-Seamer has lost more than half its average vertical break, though he’s been pretty consistent horizontally.
I recently noted that Phil Hughes was having similar issues getting his fastball to rise to its previous levels against Cleveland, and between Phil’s injury history and Colon’s hamstring, I think it’s safe to say that if pitchers aren’t fully trusting their legs they aren’t able to generate the vertical break required on their fastballs to be effective, which is clearly a major problem.
Colon’s been a valuable component of the 2011 Yankees, but his results during his last two outings have not put the Yankees in a position to win either game, and if he’s anything less than 100% the Bombers will have to call Ivan Nova up. Additionally, if Colon did indeed rush back from injury and is now sidelined for a significant amount of time, it likely makes the need for Brian Cashman to acquire a starting pitcher that much greater.
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