Bartolo Colon has struggled immensely in the month of June for the Texas Rangers. The primary concern is no longer trading Colon, it is now keeping him in the rotation as the season progresses.
Texas Rangers Bartolo Colon pitched just 3.1 innings in Tuesday night’s game, allowing eight earned runs on nine hits, including three home runs. He did face perhaps the hottest offense in all of MLB in the Los Angeles Dodgers; however, the terrible start wasn’t exactly out of the blue. Colon has seen his ERA rise considerably in each month of the season. It seems his age 45 season and 21st overall major league season is wearing him down rather quickly.
For obvious reasons, Bartolo Colon is an incredibly unique player. His career highlights, on-field and off-field will certainly make for a fascinating biography one day. Plus, he’s at the point where every start he makes results in some historical milestone. He tied the legendary Juan Marichal for most wins by a Dominican-born player two outings ago. And last night’s outing included strikeout number 2,500 in his career; he is the 34th pitcher in MLB history to reach that mark.
Bartolo has had an incredible career, though, it is still in progress and it is not going well of late. Colon was the Texas Rangers’ best player after the month of April. He finished the month with a 2.87 ERA in four starts and two relief appearances. He held opposing hitters to a .216 batting average and posted an outstanding 0.862 WHIP. The 44-year-old (at the time) was the Texas ace in April.
But the month of May saw his ERA increase to 3.55, and the flood gates have opened in June. After the start against the Dodgers, Colon now has an overall ERA of 4.94. In June, he has averaged three innings per start and has given up a .411 batting average and .839 slugging percentage to opposing hitters.
His rapid decline does not come as much of a surprise. After all, a 45-year-old listed at 285 pounds is going to fall off at some point. He certainly wasn’t going to continue on his April pace. Colon is no longer a pitcher that relies on velocity. He routinely tosses in two-seam fastballs anywhere between 86-89 mph. Colon has proven that he can be effective in that range of velocity; however, he has become overly reliant on movement and location in his old age.
If he can’t get his two-seamer to tail in its customary way then he is going to run into problems. The same goes if he can’t spot his 88 mph fastball on the corners of the plate. Over the last month, Colon has rarely been able to do either. This has resulted in a drastic drop-off for him and yet another concern for the Texas Rangers.
Headed into the season, the worst case scenario was Bartolo Colon not pitching capable enough to leave the minor league system. The best case scenario was Colon holding a place in the starting rotation and pitch well enough to potentially be flipped for an average to slightly above average prospect by the trade deadline.
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A month and a half in, the best case scenario was playing out. Colon was holding court with many of the league’s best arms and giving Texas more consistent efforts than anyone else on staff. Unfortunately, that has not withstood and it now seems unlikely the Rangers will be able to get anything for him. Actually, trading Colon is not a priority. The priority is getting him through the season while pitching at a competitive level.
The Texas Rangers’ rotation is terrible. The sad part is it’s it only going to get worse. Cole Hamels will certainly be gone by August and Doug Fister could depart as well. Texas’ rotation is already thin, as indicated by their struggle to fill out this week’s schedule in which they have two days off. Matt Moore is clearly not a major league-caliber pitcher, nor is Martin Perez.
If Bartolo Colon can’t eat innings then the rotation will really be in a bad spot. Sooner than later, the organization will have to promote at least one or two minor league pitchers to play their hand in the rotation.