May 5, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning of a their inter league baseball game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
While Bartolo Colon may not be the best pitcher in the game, he certainly has a strong case as the most entertaining. It is nothing short of a miracle that Colon pitches in the National League because it is high comedy watching him “hit” for the New York Mets.
The portly righty is nearly 42 years old, but he is pitching some of the best baseball of his life. He has not issued a walk since Opening Day on April 6th. In Bartolo Colon’s seven starts this season, he has gone at least six innings and has posted a 6-1 record so far. His 21.7% K% is above league average, which is a very pleasant surprise. His 3.30 ERA is backed by a 3.17 FIP, 3.19 xFIP, and a 3.19 SIERA.
While Colon’s first seven starts have been quite good overall, let me repeat the most outrageous part of his stat line: he only has allowed one base on balls. In the bottom of the sixth with two outs on Opening Day, Colon walked Ryan Zimmerman. That means he has not walked a batter in 40.2 IP. He is almost halfway there to Bill Fischer’s record of 84.1 IP with no walks.
Bartolo Colon is not only excelling in not issuing free passes, but he is striking out batters with a 7.77 per nine, which is his best since 2001 with the Cleveland Indians. The last time Colon had a strikeout rate north of 7.77 per nine was when the Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series, Barry Bonds smashed 73 homers in a season where he dominated beyond comprehension, and the Red Sox were still three years away from Reversing the Curse.
Between his impeccable control and newfound solid strikeout rate, Bartolo Colon has a 40 K/BB ratio and a 21.2% K-BB% to date. (Phil Hughes had a historic 11.63 K/BB in 2014 and Clayton Kershaw was second last year with a 7.71 K/BB). Sure, there is literally no way that Colon can keep up this rate, but his early walk and strikeout numbers are still very meaningful.
According to industry experts, K-BB% is the best indicator we currently have to measure in-season performance and skills of a pitcher. Colon’s 21.2% K-BB% obviously bodes really well for his skills and future performances in 2015. Even though Bartolo Colon is nearly 42 and he looks quite comical out there, he is a very legitimate fantasy option. I would start him with full confidence.
Besides not walking batters, Bartolo Colon has a batted ball profile that should help keep his ERA and WHIP in control. According to new batted ball data on www.fangraphs.com, batters are only pulling 30.1% of batted balls against Colon compared to hitting 40.6% to the center of the field. They are career lows and highs, respectively.
With Colon being a fly ball pitcher, this year’s batted ball profile could work out great (if the batted ball profile stays close to its current iteration) since defensive wizard, Juan Lagares, patrols center for the Mets. Of course, the 38.7% career and 41.0% 2015 fly ball rate for Colon will lead to some homer issues, but he pitches in Citi Field and has the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies in his division. All in all, it is a perfect storm for the ageless wonder.
There is no guarantee that Bartolo Colon will continue his prolific start, especially at his advanced age for a professional athlete. However, his in-season stats look terrific, and he shows no signs of slowing down. Take advantage of watching Colon whenever possible because he will make you smile with his appearance, unorthodox delivery, and failed batting attempts, but he will also wow you with his control.