Mets Bartolo Colon set to make 500th MLB appearance

Aug 4, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) pitches against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 4, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) pitches against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Tonight, Mets cult hero Bartolo Colon will make the 500th appearance of his MLB career.

The Mets indefatigable Bartolo Colon continued defying Father Time last Wednesday.

He allowed Arizona one earned run on seven hits and a walk, while fanning eight through seven innings of work.  Colon earned a no-decision despite an effective 115 pitch effort, as the Mets fell 3-2 in extra innings.

Lack of a decision against Arizona was particularly significant for Colon.  He failed to become the 18th pitcher of the inter-league era to record a win over all 30 MLB teams.

Luckily baseball is a game of second chances.  Of all people, Colon should know. He’ll get one final crack at the D-Backs this season as the Mets open a three game series in Arizona.  Colon will start tonight’s opener.

More significantly, Colon’s start will mark his 500th major league appearance.

Colon moved ahead of Whitey Ford after last Wednesday’s start.  This appearance will tie him with Catfish Hunter for #388 on the all-time games pitched list.

Colon is also baseball’s all-time career leader in games started among active pitchers.   This will mark #491 of his ongoing 19 year career.  He’ll move into baseball’s all-time top fifty with three more starts.  Beyond Monday, if Colon squeezes in six more starts this season he would place #47 above the likes of Mickey Lolich and Burleigh Grimes.

In 1998 with Cleveland, a 25-year-old Colon began a streak of eight straight seasons of making 30-plus starts.  That run culminated in 2005 as a 32-year-old member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, where he won the American League Cy Young award that season with a 21-8 record and 3.48 ERA.

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Colon’s career then turned on a dime. Various injuries and controversy would dominate his next seven seasons.

He was limited to just 48 appearances from 2006 through the 2009 season.  A combined 14-21 record with an unsightly 5.18 ERA caused many to begin questioning the continuance of his career.

Colon then missed the entire 2010 season.  He elected to undergo a controversial stem cell procedure in April which came under the close scrutiny of MLB.

By 2011, Colon signed with the New York Yankees for whom he posted an 8-10 record with a 4.00 ERA.

The aging veteran then agreed on a two-year contract with the Oakland A’s.  Colon, however, made his 24th and final start of the 2012 regular season in mid-August. Shortly after earning his tenth victory of the season, MLB served Colon with a 50-game suspension after testing positive for synthetic testosterone.

His career should have arguably ended then … or not.

The newly minted 40-year-old returned to Oakland in 2013 with a vengeance.  Colon posted an 18-6 record and stellar 2.65 ERA.  He started 30 games, and pitched at least 190 innings for the first time in eight seasons.

Now 43 years old, Colon remains consistent, resilient, and durable as ever.  He’s also in the midst of a new streak.  Colon has made at least 30 starts in each of his last three seasons.  With 23 starts to date (not including tonight), he is seven starts shy of making it four seasons in a row.

Colon enters tonight’s game with a 10-6 record, a 3.35 ERA, and 1.199 WHIP.  But a closer inspection of his season reveals one hell of a swan song.

2016 Highlights

  • Colon’s .625 win percentage is .037 above his career mark
  • His 3.35 ERA is 0.59 below his career average
  • His 3.98 FIP is 0.06 below his career mark
  • And his 1.199 WHIP is 0.100 below his career mark
  • Both his 9.2 H/9 average and 1.1 HR/9 average are on par with his career averages
  • Colon’s 1.5 W/9 average is a full 1.0 below his career average
  • Only his 6.1 K/9 average trails his 6.7 K/9 career mark

Colon has totaled 88 appearances since joining the Mets, and has so far made 85 regular season starts.  He’s earned a decision in 83 percent of his games as a Met.  After 2 1/2 seasons, he owns a combined 39-32 record (.549), with a 3.93 ERA and 3.77 FIP, and has issued just 77 walks and fanned 378 batters through 531.1 innings pitched.

In 2015, Colon led the N.L. with a 1.1 W/9 average.

All told, Colon enters tonight’s game owning a career 228-160 record and 3.94 ERA, with 2,328 career strikeouts over 3.115 innings pitched.

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He’s an unlikely candidate for baseball’s Hall of Fame.  But should he never throw another pitch, he would fit perfectly in the hall of very, very good.

At the very least, Big Sexy deserves a nice congratulatory pat on the posterior.

Now go get that victory over the Diamondbacks!