On Wednesday, May 16th, Bartolo Colon returned to the city where he made his MLB debut nearly 21 years ago and baffled the Mariners’ offense; which was significantly different than his debut in
Bartolo Colon made his second big league start against Seattle on 4/9/97 in the Kingdome, allowing six runs in the first inning while only getting two outs. Things got considerably better for him.
— Corey Brock (@CoreyBrockMLB) May 16, 2018
The former fireballer has redefined himself as a junkballer in the later stages of his career and he’s been wildly successful, despite the loss of velocity.
Through 50 innings pitched in 2018, Colon has tossed 2.82/4.49/3.76 whole striking out 17.5% of batters faced and only walking 2.4% — which is currently the lowest walk rate of his entire career. The veteran starting pitcher has struggled with dingers this season as he’s got a home run to fly all ratio of 22% through his first seven starts of the year, which is also confirmed by his moderate xFIP of 3.76. Colon has struggled with giving up home runs because batters are hitting the ball off of him harder than they have at any other year in his career — his medium contact rate against is at 47.2% and his hard hit rate is 43.9%.
Why are hitters crushing Colon’s pitches this season? It’s because of his continued decrease in velocity and the fact that he’s been leaving a lot of pitches over the middle of the plate through the beginning of the season.
But we’re starting to see that change as in his last three starts he’s been able to stay clear of the middle of the plate and nibble more on the edges.
As the 21-year bet continues to nibble more on the edges, we should see his hard hit rate regress more towards his career norms. Which should lead to a decreased dinger to fly ball ratio…and even better peripherals.
All of this means that Colon will be a league average starting pitcher for ever and he’ll never have to contemplate retirement.
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