Already this season, New York Yankees starter Bartolo Colon has thrown more Major League innings than the last two years combined, and has already had his most successful season on the mound since 2005. Yesterday, on Memorial Day, Colon went out and threw a complete game shutout against the Oakland Athletics, giving up only four hits, no walks, allowing just seven balls out of the infield, while striking out six on just 103 pitches.
Much has been made of the stem cell treatment that Colon received prior to this season, as it gets the credit for transforming Colon and the declining velocity of his fastball from an old pitcher on his way out to a guy taking full advantage of his opportunity to get one last kick of the can. However, as Dave Cameron pointed out for FanGraphs a couple of weeks ago, there are some numbers that indicate that his rebound isn’t that surprising and that it may not be sustainable.
Even without the miraculous stem cell treatment, it would be fair to expect Colon’s velocity to get back to where it was before 2009. He rested the arm for most of 2010, and like most pitchers who are forced to take a year off because of an arm injury, he’s returned throwing harder than he was before it.
As for the sustainability of his numbers, the usual tell tale signs like BABIP and LOB% are fairly close to the league average, with Colon’s BABIP slightly lower and LOB% slightly higher, but if you look at his recent swinging strike rate of 6.0 (the seventh worst among starters in the American League), we find that he’s far below the league average of 8.4. His overall strikeout rate has been one of his keys to success and the low swinging strikes indicate that he might not be able to continue gathering Ks at a rate above the league average and his career norms.
Colon’s swinging strike rate is so low that it’s going to be nearly impossible for him to maintain this kind of strikeout rate going forward. Whether he’s just been the beneficiary of some friendly strike zones or batters are so surprised that he’s throwing strikes that they forgot to swing does not really matter all that much – we have to expect that Colon won’t keep freezing hitters at the rate he has been, and his strikeout rate will probably return to something closer to his previously established norms.
Colon, despite his pleasant scent, is going to be battling a two front war in the coming months of the season. Not only has the pitcher not thrown over 100 Major League innings since 2005, and there’s a safe expectation that he’ll eventually fatigue, but that mean old regression host is waiting in the wings to haunt Colon’s revival season. But that’s not going to stop Yankees fans from enjoying everything that they can get out of an offseason reclamation project, that for once, has actually worked out well.
And The Rest
Joakim Soria is out as closer in Kansas City. After three blown saves in his last four appearances, Brian Cashman probably sent Dayton Moore the fanciest fruit basket in New York after the Royals general manager spurned the Yankees offer for the struggling reliever this offseason.
24 year old Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce hit his twelfth home run of May during yesterday’s 7-3 Memorial Day win against division rivals the Milwaukee Brewers.
Hanley Ramirez is in so much back pain that he can’t even lean over to tie up the laces on his cleats.
Jose Reyes has taken a bereavement leave after his grandmother passed away. Cue some hysterical questioning of his leaving the team.
What’s wrong with Ubaldo Jimenez, other than the way I always want to spell his name with an extra “i” instead of an “e?”
The Tampa Bay Rays would like to reserve their, and only their right to say bad words at Tropicana Field.
The Boston Red Sox have lost two games in a row. These are the little joys that we must hold on to whenever they happen.
Jonathan Papelbon makes a case for his worth.
Don’t expect to see the Nationals move Ivan Rodriguez as part of a desperation trade.
There hasn’t been a lot of good news for Gary Carter lately, and that unfortunate streak continues.
Oh, Scott Kazmir. It’s been quite the fall.
Surprisingly, this article wasn’t written by Getting Blanked contributor Hunter Roscoe.
Was Ron Roenicke’s squeeze bunt call the right play for the right time this weekend?
Finally, courtesy of Awful Announcing, Derek Jeter’s approach to 3,000 hits has suddenly become less impressive: