After beginning the year with two solid starts, Bartolo Colon was blasted by the Angels last Sunday for nine runs and eleven hits over five innings. As reported by ESPN Deportes, it turns out that Colon's meltdown may have had something to do with lower back stiffness, which is something that the 40-year-old right-hander has dealt with throughout his career. It was his 2005 Cy Young Award campaign that saw perhaps his biggest struggles with his lower back. He obviously fought through it back then, so let's hope he can do it again.
As a pitcher who relies on pin-point control to make up for a fastball that no longer overwhelms, problems with the lower back can spell trouble. Most likely unable to finish his delivery, Colon left everything up in the strike zone to an Angels lineup that was more than happy to tee-off on his waist-high offerings. It was the first time since 2007 that Colon had given up nine runs, including back-to-back-to-back home runs to Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Raul Ibanez. To Colon's credit, he stayed on the mound and pitched through the fifth to give a tired bullpen some rest.
Also to his credit, Colon refused to use his back stiffness as an excuse for a poor performance. Colon said (translated), "I feel good. Before it felt pretty tight, but I am better and it will not be a problem. Does not excuse what happened [in Anaheim], it was just a bad day."
To deal with the stiffness, Colon has been receiving hot and cold treatment and is expected to make his next start. He is scheduled to toe the rubber this Saturday, when he will face the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. If he's leaving the ball up early, it may be a sign that all is not well with his lower back.