The success of Bartolo Colon leaves the New York Mets in a difficult position planning for next season. They have a very talented but injury prone stable of young starting pitchers. However, the 43-year old’s performances and popularity with the fanbase makes him difficult to let go.
Colon has been with the Mets since 2013, and is probably at his best this season, despite being around halfway to 44, which he’ll hit next May. He has a 3.22 ERA, 1.233 WHIP and although his velocity continues to drop, his 3.72 strikeout-per-walk ratio is still desirable. He made the All-Star game this season for the first time since 2013, when he was still playing for the Oakland A’s, coming off a 50-game suspension for the use of synthetic testosterone. That past even makes some wonder about Colon’s ability at such an advanced baseball-age.
Some numbers suggest there’s no use in counting on Colon, who made $7.25 million this season. His fastball is under the 90’s and dropping, and is inning per start average is falling. He is averaging 5.8 innings per start this season, but that’s a little skewed because of a one-inning performance in June, leaving after getting hit with a line drive. It’s probably going to come down to money, and maybe putting Colon in the bullpen, with an option of bumping him up to rotation if there’s a need for him, could be the best solution if the Mets are fearing his body not being able to handle it.
Besides Colon, the Mets have Zack Wheeler, but he’s not going to pitch in 2016, and who knows how the Tommy John surgery affected him. Matt Harvey had surgery, Steven Matz has shoulder and elbow problems, and both Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom have been dealing with minor but nagging issues. Colon doesn’t look like someone in the best of shape, but he’s about to put up his fourth consecutive season with at least 30 starts.
Despite our bullpen-rotation suggestion, Colon might still be in demand around the league, all depending on his salary. He did enough this season to show he can play a bit longer, and the Mets, despite some uncharacteristic decisions, have shown they’ve outgrown their tendencies to avoid spending money, now that they feel the window to compete and win is wide open. It’s unlikely Colon starts for them again in 2017, but not that unlikely.