Bartolo Colon Is Better Than You Remember


The Rangers were shutout twice so far in this four game series against the A’s and were almost no hit in the first game before picking up a hit in the eighth inning.

Jarrod Parker and Bartolo Colon are two very different pitchers, though and how could two guys shut down what has been the best offensive team so far this season. I know this is a site about the Texas Rangers but indulge me for a bit as I try to remind you how good Colon once was.

Remember when Cleveland had back-to-back Cy Young Award winners in C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee? They had Colon first and he was a bonafide ace. He won a Cy Young Award in 2005 as a member of the Angels. But he only made two all-star teams. He may very well be the most underrated player of this generation and the fact that he needed experimental surgery to prolong his career, he may even be remembered more for that than he would for his prime.

Almost exactly 10 years ago, I had just graduated from high school and took in a game between the Montreal Expos and the Indians at Olympic Stadium due to the fantastic advent of interleague play. Colon was pitching for the Indians and he shut the Expos down. The Expos that year, it should be said, were battling for a playoff spot. If you look at the final standings, this may be hard to believe but they defied the odds and the rumours of contraction and battled.

The date was June 22, 2002. The Expos were coming into the game with an eight game winning streak. The Indians would end up being sellers by the trade deadline trading, among others, Ricardo Rincon. Colon was masterful. He scattered nine hits over eight innings, striking out two and allowed only two runs. Bob Wickman would try to blow the save by giving up two runs but the Indians held on 5-4.

Montreal’s lineup that day included former Rangers Brad Wilkerson, Vladimir Guerrero, Fernando Tatis and Lee Stevens.

Colon picked up the win and moved to 10-4 on the season. It would be his last start for Cleveland. They would trade him to Montreal before his next start.

The Expos added both Colon and Cliff Floyd before the trade deadline but their team didn’t respond and Floyd was traded to Boston before the trade deadline when the Expos all but gave up already.

Colon went 10-4 for the Expos to finish at 20-8 with a 2.93 ERA between Cleveland and Montreal.

Of course, the thing that most people remember about Colon is the trade that brought him to Montreal. The Expos traded Lee Stevens, Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips for Colon and Tim Drew. Of course, the Expos didn’t care about prospects because they thought they would be contracted and had a slither of hope to make the playoffs. Lee, Sizemore and Phillips were three top prospects and the deal looks just as bad now as it did at the time. Sizemore has dealt with injury issues and Phillips is good but Lee developed into a star pitcher after struggling early in his Major League career.

But, back to Colon himself. Not many people can say they threw 8 innings of shutout baseball 10 years apart against the same team. Colon did that.

May 4, 2002: 8 ip, 4 h, 1 BB, 9 K, 125 pitches/87 strikes
June 6, 2012: 8 ip, 5 h, 1 BB, 5 K, 100 pitches/77 strikes

And just for fun, Texas lineup from that game:

Mike Lamb, 1B
Michael Young, 2B
Rusty Greer, LF
Alex Rodriguez, SS
Rafael Palmeiro, DH
Carl Everett, RF
Herbert Perry, 3B
Hector Ortiz, C
Calvin Murray, CF

So, yes the results were the same but at least we’re not in 2002, right?