Entering the 2016 season, a lot was made about the Mets' dominant pitching staff, led by their "four aces." After the team's young core of Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz all performed well en route to the team's fifth World Series appearance, excitement was high—as were expectations. Many also pointed to the expected mid-season return of Zack Wheeler to complete what might be the league's best rotation in recent memory.
Somehow, among all of this young talent, Bartolo Colon became the forgotten man. Yet, without much fanfare—for his pitching, at least—Colon may be the team's most pleasant surprise thus far.
Colon turned down better offers and decided to re-sign with the Mets this past offseason on a one-year, $7.25 million deal. It is often said that there are no bad one-year deals, but this one in particular looks like it has the potential to be a real bargain, especially when you consider the amount of money that's been thrown at guys like Mike Leake, Jeff Samardzija, and Ian Kennedy.
Over five starts and one relief appearance, Colon sports a 2.56 ERA and a 2.82 FIP with 28 strikeouts and just three walks over 31.2 innings pitched. Noah Syndergaard currently leads all Mets pitchers with a 1.5 fWAR, but Colon is second with a 0.8 fWAR. Colon's 7.96 K/9 would be his best mark since 2001, while his 0.85 BB/9 would be a new career best. Colon's 8.0 K/9 in April is better than any single month of his two-plus-year Mets career.
One month's worth of statistics is not significant enough to declare that Colon is a new and improved pitcher, and three combined starts against the Phillies and Braves will be a boon to most pitchers, but for a soon-to-be 43-year-old, the mere fact that he's not slowing down at all is encouraging.
Where would the Mets be without Bartolo Colon? Probably in a similar position—we're still pretty early in the season, after all. But with Jacob deGrom being forced to miss time, and with Matt Harvey and Steven Matz battling some inconsistency, having a dependable and possibly underrated innings-eater like Bartolo Colon is a wonderful thing.