Yanks in need of a Colon cleansing


It’s no secret that Bartolo Colon has seen his production drop recently.

In his first 10 starts of 2011, he held batters to a .224/.269/.378/.647 line with 59 strikeouts to 15 walks over 67 innings. Over that span he yielded 23 runs — 22 earned — on 55 hits with eight homers. Three of those outings were scoreless and he had one complete game while hurling at least seven innings three times (eight frames twice).

Then, on June 12, he went on the DL with a strained left hammy. He made his triumphant return on July 2, throwing six innings of five-hit, scoreless ball against the Loser Mets to lower his ERA to 2.88. Since then, however, he has been anything but Cy Colon.

Over his last nine starts, Colon has allowed batters to hit .311/.365/.534/.899 while striking out 34 and walking 16 over 46 2/3 innings. Bart has given up 34 runs — 27 earned — on 60 hits since that Mets game, and he has yet to record a scoreless outing. He’s made it out of the sixth stanza just once and lasted a season-worst 2/3 of an inning on July 14 against the Blue Jays [not his fault, they were probably stealing signs].

His ERA is still a solid (for a 38-year-old who hadn’t pitched since 2009) 3.71, and he’s at least been somewhat effective — averaging just three earned runs over these nine starts — but this is the wrong part of the season to have the proverbial wheels fall off.

So what could be the reason for this drop in production? The easy answer is he’s getting tired. He’s thrown 131 innings in 2011, whereas he hadn’t broken a c-note since his Cy Young year of 2005. However, his velocity would suggest otherwise. Take a look at the velocity of his fastball in each of his 20 starts this season:

Date: top speed — average speed

Data according to Brooksbaseball.net’s PitchFX tool

4/20: 94 — 91.51

4/27: 96.1 — 93.25

5/2: 95.6 — 92.85

5/7: 95.3 — 92.28

5/13: 95.6 — 93.08

5/18: 94.8 — 91.89

5/23: 95.1 — 91.51

5/30: 95.4 — 92.67

6/5: 95.9 — 93.16

6/11: 96.1 — 92.85

**DL stint**

7/2: 95.3 — 93.06

7/7: 95.3 — 92.52

7/14: 93.7 — 92.02

7/19: 94.4 — 91.56

7/24: 95.5 — 92.35

7/30: 95.7 — 92.31

8/5: 97 — 93.67

8/11: 94.9 — 91.12

8/17: 95.5 — 92.88

8/23: 94.9 — 91.66

This shows that while his last three starts have seen his fastball velocity drop a bit, he’s still right around where he was earlier this season. These numbers don’t lie but he still could be wearing down despite the about-the-same speed of ol’ number one.

Not that it means much, but Colon tried to quash talks of being fatigued after last night’s loss:

I feel really healthy, very strong. All I have to do is keep working hard and see what happens.

I think I pitched pretty good [against the A's].

We should take these quotes with a grain of rice because players will always say they’re healthy.

Or it could be that hitters have figured out Colon. According to LoHud, Bart admitted that he shied away from his two-seam fastball in favor of his four-seamer due to a pair of homers in last night’s loss to the A’s, one of the worst offensive teams in the majors. Plus, he’s been tagged for 10 earned runs and 15 hits over his last two starts.

Whatever the case may be, he better get his act together for the stretch run and, hopefully, the postseason. The rotation needs him. If he has to pull another Peter Griffin, so be it:

Tags: Bartolo Colon