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Mets playoffs: The bullpen is different with Bartolo Colon in it

Can we credit the larger-than-life righty for late-inning bullpen heroics? Sure, why not.

Harry How/Getty Images

There are a few things Bartolo Colon brings to the New York Mets. A steady back-of-the rotation presence. Some amazing at-bats. And veteran leadership that's been a key to the New York Mets pitching staff. So maybe we shouldn't be surprised that Colon is a big reason why the Mets bullpen is strong on the back end.

Closer Jeurys Familia, who has been on the mound for all but one game in the 2015 postseason, credits Colon for being one of the main reasons why he's been so strong on the mound.

"Bartolo always reminds me to come prepared for any situation," Familia told the Daily News before Sunday's win. "I've got an opportunity to be close to him and learn from him because he's been in baseball a long time. Whatever question I have about baseball or life, I ask Bartolo."

Mets manager Terry Collins also knows the importance of having Bartolo around to help Familia, telling USA Today that Colon has been "a blessing" for the closer.

"Look, here we are, game what, 190 of the season, and I will bet you 190 times those two have stood in the outfield some place or have been some place together where they talk," Collins said. "His leadership with those young guys, and then when you add the humor of Juan Uribe, that’s been huge."

Familia, who also credits LaTroy Hawkins for teaching him about baseball and the quick pitch, calls Colon a brother. He told the New York Times that Colon challenged him early in 2014, after a string of mediocre outings.

"[Colon] came to me and he said, ‘Are you scared to pitch?’ " Familia said. "I said, ‘No, I’m not scared to pitch.’ He said, ‘If you’re scared, take your bat and go home.’ The way he said it motivated me to do my job."

Addison Reed, watching from the bullpen, said that Colon is "even-keeled," something that likely rubs off on the rest of the staff. After all, the longest-tenured and oldest player on the team went to the manager and said that he's more than happy to move to the bullpen in the playoffs, checking his undersized ego at the door.

Having Colon in the bullpen has paid off for the Mets. In three appearances during the Dodgers series, he got an important ground ball in Game 2, ate up two big innings after Matt Harvey left with a big lead in Game 3, and threw two scoreless innings to keep the Mets in Game 4—and the bullpen rested for Game 5. He's made sure that setup relievers Addison Reed and Tyler Clippard weren't overused. That paid off Sunday night, when the Cubs were set down in the seventh and eighth with only one two-out single allowed.