Since debuting in 1997, the rotund, rubber-armed Bartolo Colon has pitched nearly 3,000 innings. After seemingly washing out of the league following a mediocre 2009 season with the White Sox, he came back with a vengeance in 2011. Since then, he's pitched for five seasons with a strikeout-to-walk ratio that has actually gotten better with age.
Last year, Colon appeared in 40 games for the Mets, including the playoffs. That was a career high in appearances, and he did it at the age of 42. He was his usual self as a starter, putting up a 4.16 ERA. There is no real reason he can't put up similar numbers in 2016.
In the playoffs, Colon came out of the bullpen seven times. He pitched 8.2 innings and had a 2.08 ERA, and his velocity ticked up. This year, he's ticketed for multiple roles. He'll begin as a starter while Zack Wheeler works his way back from Tommy Johns urgery. Once Wheeler is healthy, a six-man rotation will likely be employed for a bit once again.
Then, assuming the other five starters are all healthy, Colon would move to the bullpen permanently for the first time in his career. Just eight of his 475 regular season appearances have come from in relief, but he should be up to the task. How Terry Collins utilizes Big Sexy will be determined down the line. He's clearly capable of going multiple innings so long relief, spot starts, and high-leverage scenarios are all possibilities. If Collins trusted him in the playoffs, there's no reason to think he wouldn't now. He'll be a very interesting bullpen piece, especially since he succeeds with one pitch already as a starter. That one pitch, though, is beautiful.
Colon throws fastballs, fastballs, and, well fastballs. 83.8 percent of his pitches last year were fastballs, and more than half were his two-seamer. Since his re-emergence from stem cell treatment, the two-seamer has been his best pitch. Occasionally he'll throw a slider or changeup, if only to show he still knows how to do so.
Last season, he induced soft contact about 17.2 percent of the time, or exactly as often as Matt Harvey. He also gave up hard contact 29.0 percent of the time, or about the same as CC Sabathia. What does this tell us? Nothing really, but it's kind of funny, and isn't that what the Bartolo Colon experience is all about?