Colon’s Injury: Blessing In Disguise?

After 49-pitch sim game, Hughes to make Sunday rehab start
Cory Wade: Useful or Filler?

Any time a team loses its number two starter, it’s going to hurt. Most teams simply don’t have the depth to replace a pitcher of that caliber, and the same is true of the Yankees. They lost Bartolo Colon for at least two weeks when he strained his hamstring covering first base on Sunday, though it could easily be more given the nature of his injury and his less than ideal physical condition. My hope is that he can start one of the first five games after the All-Star break, though I tend to set expectations low. Now, excuse me as I put on my blind optimism hat for a second, but is it possible that Colon’s stint on the disabled list could actually be a good thing?

Of course it’s going to completely stink in the short term because Bartolo was legitimately pitching like an ace. His 3.34 FIP and 1.6 fWAR puts him in the company of guys like Jamie Shields (3.50 FIP, 1.7 fWAR), Tim Hudson (3.41 FIP, 1.4 fWAR), Chad Billingsley (3.40 FIP, 1.4 fWAR), and Ricky Nolasco (3.55 FIP, 1.4 fWAR), four guys any of us would happily take in the Yankees’ rotation. However, Colon has also thrown 78.1 IP this year, and the only reason it’s that low is because he started the year in the bullpen. Since officially moving into the rotation on April 15th, his 67 IP are right up there with noted workhorses like Mark Buehrle (67.2 IP), Ted Lilly (66.1 IP), and Dan Haren 68.2 IP). Point being, Colon’s thrown a ton of innings lately.

All that work is why this DL stint could be a blessing in disguise for the Yankees. Those 78.1 IP this season are already more than Colon threw in 2010 (0 IP), 2009 (62.1 IP), 2008 (39.1 IP), and 2006 (56.1 IP), and he’s just 21 IP shy of his 2007 total. It’s been a while since Bartolo has endured this kind of workload, and who really knows how that stem cell treated shoulder will hold up. Simply put, a few weeks of rest at this point of the season could be just what this 38-year-old needs to remain healthy and effective down the stretch, when the Yankees are really going to need him.

This isn’t just about Colon either. His absence will afford the Yankees the opportunity to give some of their younger arms a taste of the big leagues, even if it’s just Hector Noesi experiencing life as a Major League starter for the first time. It’s better to let him start that learning process now than in August and September, when the margin for error is smaller just based on the number of games left on schedule. Heck, if Noesi pitches well, it could also boost his trade value and make him that much more desirable to other teams in a midseason trade should the Yankees decide to go that way. The same holds true for David Phelps or Adam Warren.

There’s always a chance that Bartolo comes back from the injury and simply doesn’t pitch as well as he had been. If fact, there’s probably a better chance of that happening than him coming back and dominating again. This level of performance is just so improbable, but he’s been defying the odds all season and I wouldn’t be surprised if he continued to do so after this little vacation. It’s hard to spin injuries into a positive, and if Colon’s bum hamstring has any benefit to the team, keeping him fresh for the stretch drive is it.

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After 49-pitch sim game, Hughes to make Sunday rehab start
Cory Wade: Useful or Filler?
  • Cris Pengiuci

    All true, provided the Yankees hold on during his absence (and the absence of others at the same time, which scares me).

  • zs190

    Heh, I thought the exact same thing on Twitter a couple days ago. It’s not just the innings he threw in the regular season. He pitched a lot in winter ball and then quite a few in spring training as well. Usually guys with guaranteed roster spots don’t pitch that much in the winter and spring but he really had to fight hard for the roster spot so he’s really pitched a ton.

    You never want to see pitchers get hurt but Bart would never miss a start willingly and at the pace he’s going, he might not last to the end of year. A non-arm injury lets him rest the arm a bit and could prove beneficial at the end of the year (possibly in playoffs, since Bart is the 2nd best starter so far)

    • Ted Nelson

      Yeah this post is a bit late to the party, but better late than never I suppose.

      • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Mike’s on a pretty ridiculous blogging pace with the other guys out of commission lately, I think we can cut him some slack on this one.

        • Ted Nelson

          Yeah, agreed. Just saying that this isn’t some grand original thought. That’s not a criticism of Mike for posting it. More just that like ZS190, myself and others have already suggested it and it’s not an earth-shacking thought. I don’t think Mike necessarily intended it to be an innovative post that changed people’s worlds.

          • aluis

            +1

        • YanksFan in MA

          I’ve been wondering if there is anything he does besides watching baseball, writing about it, and doing his real job. I’m thinking he needs a night out on the town.

    • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Don’t hurt yourself patting yourself on the back for that totally original and unique thought.

      (Wink wink)

      • zs190

        =) Not saying it was unique at all but didn’t really see much discussion on it on Twitter (maybe I missed it). RAB has a much broader readership and I’m glad to see some discussion on the topic.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          You’re brave for broaching the subject, but not as brave as dalelama.

  • steve (different one)

    You misspelled “Jeter’s”

  • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

    I don’t think you can really look at the innings blindly like that. I’m too lazy to look up game logs, but I feel as though there have been a bunch of starts where Colon went ~7 innings, but only threw 80-90 pitches (and thus, less stressful innings). As opposed to last year, when Hughes would go 5 innings and throw 110 pitches. Not all innings are created equal.

    • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      “Not all innings are created equal.”

      Obviously this is true, but looking at IP is a nice and easy way to get a basic idea of a pitcher’s workload.

      Every single time someone references a pitcher’s IP in the context of discussing his workload someone says something to the effect of “IP isn’t the best way to measure workload. It’s enough, we all know some innings are more labor-intensive than others. IP is a simple shorthand, an easy and convenient reference-point.

      (Sorry, your comment is bearing the brunt of my annoyance here, but this is more a general response to everyone who feels compelled to make this comment every time IP is referred to, and not just to you in particular.)

      • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

        Sorry, I haven’t really noticed that as much. And generally, I agree, it just seems that Bartolo hasn’t had that much of a workload this year because his innings have been mostly stress-free.

        • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Yeah, I’m sorry… I really meant that disclaimer at the end, it wasn’t so much directed at you as a pattern of comments to that effect. Maybe I’m remembering comments from like a year or two ago and it hasn’t happened as much recently, in which case I’m annoyed about a non-existent pattern.

          • Cris Pengiuci

            OK, you two have kissed and made up now. :-)

        • Ray R

          Check out fangraphs. They have a nice breakdown of high leverage v low leverage pitches thrown.

      • MannyGeee

        Every single time someone references a pitcher’s IP in the context of discussing his workload someone says something to the effect of “IP isn’t the best way to measure workload

        funny, I have heard this… but I have heard the opposite as well: meaning that I have heard the theory of ‘high stress’ innings (pitches during major league games vs. pitches thrown in simulation/EST/rehab) as a more true barometer for workload.

        • piratechef

          Mentioning guys like Buehrle and Haren is all well and good, but it should be noted that Colon is doing it all with less pitches. He’s 100 pitches behind Mark through the same number of innings and would be behind Haren by about 200 pitches. He has been very economical.

    • Justin

      I was about to say the same thing regarding innings vs pitch count. His max pitch count this year has been 103, and that was done in the 6 inning start against boston, and the 9 inning complete game vs Oakland.

      Over the season, he’s averaging about 14.22 pitches per inning. not too rough by any means.

      • Justin

        Also, to continue with my original thought, I just did the math for the 5 main starters this year for average “workload”

        Colon: 14.22 pitches per inning
        Sabathia: 15.32 pitches per inning
        Garcia: 15.57 pitches per inning
        Burnett: 16.2 pitches per inning
        Nova: 16.55 pitches per inning.

        • Gonzo

          That’s because Colon has dinner reservations after games.

          • jsbrendog

            ietc

          • CP

            Interesting that BMI seems inversely proportional to pitches per inning pitched. Maybe the Yankees need more fat pitchers.

            • Greg

              Excellent post.

    • Ted Nelson

      I still think that with an old, fat guy with a stem cell arm who already racked up a bunch of innings in DWL… some rest might be good even if his innings haven’t been that high. We have no idea, and probably never will. Even if he gets hurt later/starts to stink it might have still helped, and even if he never gets hurt/starts to stink we have no idea whether he’d have cruised even without the rest.

      While not all innings are the same, I also don’t think pitch count is accurate. No matter how many pitches you throw in an inning, you’re still letting your shoulder cool down/tighten between innings and then getting back out there and throwing about the same number of warm up pitches. So some hybrid approach might be best.

  • Rob

    and this also means he won’t have to swing a bat or run the bases. As much as I would love to see that, it would be a guaranteed injury, and probably much worse than a strained hamstring.

    • Gonzo

      Dang, I totally didn’t even think about that. That might have been bad.

    • KOFH

      We can tell CC he can bat but not run right???

      • Gonzo

        I think they asked him to only hit HR’s.

        • MannyGeee

          /Too Many Homers by Pitchers

      • Rainbow Connection

        Apparently, they told him to not bother covering 1B.

  • Monteroisdinero

    If only he took CC’s approach and never covered the bag.

  • Gonzo

    I mentioned that this will preserve him for the playoffs kind of jokingly when it happened. You’re right about getting some ML innings for some of the kids though. Who knows, one of them could land something useful in a trade afterwards too.

  • Tito

    Colon blows anyway

    • Clay Bellinger

      Sarcasm?

      • Rob

        he might be alluding to that fake snl commercial with phil hartman from the early 90’s about the cereal full of fiber called colon blow, great bit

    • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi
    • jsbrendog

      francona? on a yankee blog?

  • CMP

    Until Colon comes back from this injury and is pitching as well as he was before it happened, you can’t say this injury was a blessing in disguise.

    I do agree that if he does come back and picks up where he left off, the 2+ week rest and the 20+ innings saved will likely be a good thing in the long run.

  • El Busto

    Colon’s Injury: Blessing In Disguise?
    not
    Colon’s Injury: Blessing In Disguise!

    All that work is why this DL stint could be a blessing in disguise for the Yankees.
    not
    All that work is why this DL stint is definitely a blessing in disguise for the Yankees.

    • El Busto

      For CMP

  • Tito

    yankees can not win with Colon & Garcia starting for them.

    • Mister Delaware

      Ignoring the fact that they currently sit inside the playoffs and have the best RAA in the AL East, I totally agree!

  • Monteroisdinero

    Mechanically speaking, a left hamstring injury is better than a right for Bartolo. I would think a healthy “drive” leg portends a better scenario than the “plant” leg-especially with Bartolo’s forward drop and drive style.

    /optimism

    • Gonzo

      I heard he prefers the term hocks to hamstrings.

  • Tito

    q

    • Gonzo

      r

  • CS Yankee

    I don’t see this as a blessing in disguise at all;
    1) He was our best pitcher YTD
    2) Muscles are best with continous use (same with mechanics), I would rather have him take an extra day off & go on a 6th day every couple of weeks.
    3) His IP seem to be very low stress (as others have mentioned) and seem to be a nonfactor.
    4) This could also lead other teams holding the Yankees to a higher bounty for a trade knowing that things are that much more “iffy” with our staff. Hughes, Joba, Soriano, Colon, Feliciano all DL’ed while Nova, Noesi, Logan, etc aren’t living up to their projections.
    5) His rehab will likely stress the thinned out ‘pen upon his return as he builds back leg & arm strength (limited innings per start).

    Let’s hope that Hughes comes back to early 2010 form come July and/or Cashman can pull off a “Haren” type of deal.

    • Ted Nelson

      I think you’re missing the point of the article… it’s just speculative, saying it *may be* a blessing in disguise but we have no way of necessarily knowing 100% even in hindsight… but anyway:

      1. Did you mean CC Sabathia? He’s not hurt.

      2. Thanks Dr. There is such a thing as too much continuous use. Like a full winter season followed by a full spring, summer, and fall at 38 on a surgically repaired shoulder. Rest can also be good for muscles.

      3. Pitching full-time in the DWL is a non-factor?

      4. You think teams didn’t know Bartolo Colon was “iffy” before??? The guys last full season was what? 2005?

      5. Speculation.

      You responded to a strawman of the argument anyway, and then made a bunch of poor arguments. The article never said definitively that this was a good thing. It said it might be… which obviously leaves open the possibility that it might not be. Your points, however, do not prove that this *is* a bad thing. This rest certainly might help Bartolo and the Yankees in the long-run.

      • CS Yankee

        I usually enjoy your input in the comment section but sometimes your attacks to differing thoughts are quite rude and make you out to be a dickhead…which if that is the affect you desire, disregard my post.

        • CMP

          I don’t think he means to come off that way though he frequently does.

          My non medical opinion is Asperger’s syndrome.

          • Gonzo

            Hehe, he said ass-burgers. Hehe.

  • Diamond Dan

    The only way this is a blessing in disguise is if it results in some of the lesser players getting a better shot at the food on the post-game spread. Colon wasn’t showing any signs of trouble from overuse before this injury, and he was that one guy we could count on each time through the rotation.

  • CC’s third leg

    Manny jesus and Hughes for kershaw right now.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      No.

      Sincerely,
      Ned Colletti

    • Gonzo

      What? Have we given up on the King Felix dream already?

      :-)

  • Jay Grace

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • S

    he has a ton of innings but he really hasn’t thrown many pitches….the fat man (my term of endearment for colon) has been economical with the number he’s thrown.

  • Preston

    Colon would have gotten hurt trying to swing the bat in IL anyways. Let’s throw all young guys Nova, Noesi, Phelps, Warren and Mitchell during those games to avoid a CMWang kind of injury. Plus we can showcase the kids against the NL competition so that GM’s will know what they’re buying (I’m only half kidding about this).