Bartolo Colon took the mound in Queens for the first time on July 23. He went six innings and gave up four earned runs on five hits. The Mets won 4-3, and Colon took the loss. That was in 2002, and Colon had already pitched just under 1,000 major league innings with a 117 ERA+. Mike Piazza and Mo Vaughn each homered in the victory over the Expos. So Bartolo Colon has been around for a while.
Last year, Colon eclipsed 200 innings for the eighth time in his eighteen-season career. He posted the best walks per nine innings (1.3) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.03) of his career. Colon also produced his second best FIP (3.57) and sixth best WHIP (1.226). His overall totals suffered due to five very bad starts in which he surrendered at least five earned runs.
Amazingly, despite last season's subpar 85 ERA+, Colon has been more valuable from ages 36 through 41 (10.4 bWAR) than he was from ages 30 through 35 (9.6 bWAR), despite missing his age-37 season during the former and winning a Cy Young during the latter.
So what can the Mets expect in 2015? Colon relied on his fastball less last year than in any season since 2008, with a career-low average velocity of 88.7 miles per hour. He relied on his slider more than any season since 2011 and his changeup more than any season since 2006. Is Colon transitioning to an offspeed, control pitcher?
At age 42, another season of 200 innings at of just below league average production might be expecting too much, but his durability and control will likely still make him a valuable asset at the back of the rotation. Besides, Colon is worth watching for the Andy Kaufman-esque level of performance art that have become plate appearances, with a line of .032/.032/.048. You may have seen some highlights.