Pretty much everyone in Braves country was excited to see Bartolo Colon in a Braves uniform. Colon, a fan favorite everywhere he has been, has rejuvanted his career by changing his pitching style as he has gotten older. He made the all-star team and won fourteen games with the Mets last season as a 43-year old. The Braves rotation has been anything but consistent over the last couple years, and Colon was supposed to serve as a solid option at a relatively low cost. However, in his first twelve starts Colon has been arguably the worst pitcher in baseball. Atlanta may not believe their young arms are ready for the big stage, but they cannot continue to send Colon out there every five nights to give up crooked numbers and fail to make it past the fifth inning. It is time for the Braves to end the Bartolo Colon experiment.
At this point, the only reason the Braves could be sending Colon out there is because they have his bobblehead day scheduled at SunTrust Park for June 9th. It may seem crazy, but that actually might play a factor in whether Colon gets another start or not. Coming into Monday’s start, Colon led the MLB among qualifying starters in ERA at 6.99. That number got noticeably worse after Monday’s outing in which Colon went just 3 2/3 innings giving up seven earned runs. His ERA is now sitting at 7.78 through twelve starts, which is simply just unacceptable at this level.
Perhaps the most discouraging part about Colon’s issues is that this has not been a control thing. Despite his struggles, he has only walked fifteen batters on the year, compared to thirty-six strikeouts. Hitters have just teed off on Colon, as he is giving up nearly thirteen hits per nine innings. His pitches, that used to move all sorts of directions, are no longer moving like they used to, which he can no longer get away with due to his diminished velocity. Even when he is getting outs, balls are being hit hard all over the field. It has been a struggle nearly every time he has taken the mound this season, and it certainly looks like this is the end of an outstanding career.
The Braves may want to keep Colon around as a reliever given their investment in him and see if he can work out his troubles. But at this point, there is no way the team can continue to let him trot out on the field as a starter. He is giving the team no chance to win, and forcing the bullpen to log heavy innings. Atlanta has too many options that can fill his spot in the rotation. If the organization does not want to give guys like Simms and Newcomb their first crack at the major league, then they can go with an option like Aaron Blair or Matt Wisler who already have major league experience. They could even give Kris Medlen another crack at the majors, as he continues to impress in the minor leagues. Nobody faults the Braves for giving Colon a chance, but it is not going to stay that way if they do not make a change now.