Bartolo Colon was roughed up again Thursday afternoon giving up 7 earned runs in 5 IP to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Colon getting roughed up has been a trend thus far in the 2017 season. After his start Thursday, he holds a 6.96 ERA which currently ranks last in the MLB among qualified starters. In his 10 starts this season, Colon has only been able to complete 6 innings in 3 of them and those 3 came within his first 4 starts of the season. To put it gently, he has been unreliable, ineffective and to this point a bad investment.
Colon was signed last November to a one year $12.5 Million dollar contract. He was signed to be a serviceable veteran starter and give the Braves innings until some of their young pitching was ready to be called up. The signing at the time seemed to be great. He was coming cff a good year with the Mets where he compiled a 3.43 ERA in 191.2 IP. That’s exactly the kind of production the Braves were hoping to get out of Colon this season. However, that’s a lot to expect of a man who just celebrated his 44th birthday. Regardless, the one thing the Braves could at least rely on with Colon is innings. They needed a veteran who can compile innings, but Colon has not been able to do that consistently in his 10 starts. Having pitchers who can go deep into games is very important for this team right now considering the bullpen is a mixed bag of goods.
At this point, the big question looms, if Colon continues to struggle how long of a leash do the Braves give him before they bring up one of their young prospects? Currently, the Braves are 7.5 games out of first place in the East and 6 games out of the 2nd wildcard spot. With the offense producing the way it has recently and the return of Freddie Freeman in 10 weeks, it is not crazy to think that the Braves can make a late season run of sneaking into the playoffs. Now, I know that seems a little far fetched, but the acquisition of Matt Adams has given a boost to fill the void of losing Freeman and will strengthen the bench once Freeman returns. For that to happen though, the pitching all around has to get better. Starters must go deeper into games and the bullpen must be more consistent with closing out games.
It will be interesting to see how much longer the Braves give Colon if he continues to struggle. Cutting ties this early in the season on a $12.5 million dollar investment is a huge loss to cut ties with, not to mention his bobblehead night is scheduled for June 9th against the Mets. The Braves may not be able to cut ties just yet, however they do have a chance to do something this season if their pitching staff can be more consistent. And if Colon can’t keep up, moves will need to be made.