The Return of Big Bad Bartolo?

How 9/11 impacted baseball travel
Swisher & A-Rod both day-to-day with various injuries
And the pitch.... (Photo used under Creative Commons License, by Flikr user dbfoto)

Seemingly lost in the fact that the Yankees lost last night – whether that’s due to an anemic offense against one of the better pitchers in the game or bad bullpen management – was the fact that Bartolo Colon went out there pitched his sizable butt off. Sadly, Jered Weaver also pitched his butt off, and it seems like success is based on percentage of butt pitched off, rather than objective size of butt. If objective butt size was the case, Weaver probably would have lost pretty badly to Bartolo. Regardless of butt proportion, this is probably the best start we’ve seen out of Colon since he pulled his hamstring on June 11th vs. Cleveland.

The pitching line tells the beginning of the story quite clearly: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. It’s an extremely good start, with the only blemish being Derek Jeter’s error and the lone walk to Bobby Abreu. During a long roadtrip, getting length like that is invaluable. To get a little nerdier, this game gave Colon his second-best game score since his hamstring injury (67), though his best game score post-injury (68) was against the Mets, so it shouldn’t really count at all. Another thing that it seemed Colon had remastered was his efficiency: in his outing, only three batters had at bats where they saw six pitches or more (two of them being hits), and the most pitches any hitter saw against Colon was seven (Mark Trumbo, who flew out). On the other side, Colon was able to deliver at-bats with three pitches or less to 17 of the 28 batters he faced. This allowed a man who hasn’t thrown this many innings since 2008 to get through seven complete frames on only 99 pitches, touching 90 twice in his last inning of work.

One of Colon’s biggest keys for success has been his two-seam fastball and its sharp movement that he uses to gather up called strikes. His previous start in Toronto, he threw 42 two-seam fastballs, which was the only pitch that he had a negative linear weight on during that game (-1.38). Yesterday in Anaheim, he threw 50 of them for a linear weight of -1.08, which while it was slightly less impressive than his previous start, it has been and continues to be significantly better than all his other pitches. A few starts ago when he bombed against Oakland, he threw only a handful of two-seamers, in contrast to how he usually uses the pitch as his bread-and-butter. It seems that, between yesterday and his start in Toronto, whatever confidence he may or may not have had in the pitch has certainly been replenished.

An additional reason for Colon’s success has been the massive amounts of called strikes that he’s gotten. His 27% called strike percentage is easily the highest in the league – behind him is Carlos Marmol with 23% and Kyle Lohse at 22%. Over the season, batters have began to try to adjust to this by at least taking hacks at his pitches and hoping they get something out of it or fouling them off in a two-strike count. Last night Colon’s five strikeouts skewed in the looking direction, but not heavily: three called verses two looking. However, even though batters are trying to get a handle on the sides of the zone, Colon is still beating them, especially on the inside to lefties/outside to righties:

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Check that out. There’s 9 called strikes on that side of the plate, one hit, a few fouls and an out. On the other side, there’s three called strikes, mostly outs and a few foul balls as well. While Colon can still throw some considerable heat (especially considering his age, physical condition, and innings pitched), it’s location and precision that has made him into the successful pitcher he was last night.

While there are obviously concerns about Colon: innings, called strikes, his somewhat rotund form – these kinds of outings are the ones that settle those doubts in my mind. Regardless of the actual outcome of the game, there’s no denying that Colon put up a stellar start against an offense that, while not the most impressive, can certainly do some damage if they’re feeling up to it. It’s just bad luck on his part that he was matched up against Weaver, who dominated everyone except for one measly right-handed twenty-one year old. What’s that kid’s name? Oh, he’s probably not that important anyway. Either way, no matter what kind of opposition is planted in front of Bartolo Colon, it seems like when he’s getting his calls and his stuff is on, he can roll right on through them. With his pitches, I mean.

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How 9/11 impacted baseball travel
Swisher & A-Rod both day-to-day with various injuries
  • http://www.twitter.com/steveh_mandaura Steve H.

    Twitter told me that last night was the worst game ever, but Bart pitching the way he did was a very good sign, and Montero turning on that inside fastball from Weaver was sick. Another start or two like this, Bart just may end up the #2 behind CC (he may be already, but I think it’s up in the air).

    • Brian S.

      I probably would have Bartolo start a game 2 at home because Nova and Freddy have better stats on the road.

  • Yanks

    You’re not funny Hannah stop trying

    • http://twitter.com/Carlosologist_7 Carlosologist

      Well you don’t have to be a dick about it.

      I thought it was a good piece. I think Colon should do better as the season winds down, he’s already far enough from the hamstring injury that we shouldn’t worry about it too much.

      • Bob Stone

        I agree. Bravo Hannah for your creativity!

    • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

      I actually chuckled about the joke. Don’t be a dick.

      • Bob Stone

        I didn’t chuckle but I still liked the effort by Hannah.

    • Cory Wade’s emergence

      I laughed

  • Monteroisdinero

    Let’s hope CC pitches his sizeable gut off tonight.

    Bart has been a great pickup-and he ain’t easy to pickup.

  • http://twitter.com/urbainshockcor Urban

    Was the loss caused by an anemic offense or bad bullpen management? Does it have to be either-or?

    The loss sucked, especially since it was the third in a row, and the third in a row the Yankees could have won. Even one out of the three would have been a positive, yet baseball is a long season. There will be streaks like this.

    I do take away too big positives. First, Bartolo’s excellent performance. He seems to be turning the corner again. The Yankees will be in much better shape if he hits top pitching form heading into October. The second positive is Montero hitting one of the best pitchers (and a righty at that) in the league hard, both for his HR and his two outs. He could have easily been three-for-three last night.

    I know Posada is going to get at least one of these DH starts, but I’m hoping no more than one.

    • Bob Stone

      In my opinion Jeter lost the game in a rare error to allow an uneraned run. Bartolo would have had a shut-out win otherwise(fallacy of pre-determined outcomes being ignored).

  • Bob Stone

    Bartolo has been a gift from God this year and truly amazing. I am glad to see him pitch much better but let’s not get carried away. Anaheim is 12th out of 14 teams in the AL in OBP.

    I would still pitch him #2 in the playoffs if they started tomorrow.