At 42 years young, Bartolo Colon is the veteran of the Mets rotation. He may not be able to sling pitches in the high 90s but he can still provide solid innings and is the living embodiment of an important lesson for all the Mets’ pitchers.
Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler can all sport fastballs in the mid 90s range if not higher.
Why then does Bartolo Colon throw his 90 mile per hour heater a much higher percentage of the time than all the Mets power pitchers?
The answer is Colon’s precision and consistency with his fastball.
Bartolo used to be a power pitcher similar to the Mets current power arms. He sported a mid to upper 90s fastball with the Indians.
As he aged, the velocity naturally declined. It is an inevitable fate that every pitcher in the world suffers. Rather than trying to continue to power the slowing fastball past opposing hitters, Colon was able to learn how to precisely throw his fastball.
Bartolo is able to throw his fastball exactly where he wants. While he will not rack up many strikeouts, he hardly walks anyone. The fastballs put into play are often soft grounders or lazy flies. Bartolo allows his defense to make plays, keep his pitch count down, and provide many innings in a game.
Colon sported his fastball over 80% of the time last year. Although hitters know exactly what is coming, Bartolo places the pitch so well that the hitters cannot do anything with it.
He is the perfect blueprint for any pitcher. Pitching in the majors is not about how hard you can throw. Rather, pitching is about how well you throw.
Colon should also be celebrated for his longevity. I doubt any of current young power pitchers in the league will be providing solid innings at age 42.
Bartolo also becomes a tremendous player off the field because of the message he sends to his teammates. Everyday he takes the mound, he provides a reminder that a pitcher who sports a 90s fastball 80% of the time can be tremendously successful.
One of the teammates Colon has had a huge impact on is Matt Harvey. Harvey wrote an article, “Fastball,” in “The Players’ Tribune” praising how Colon throws his fastball.
Harvey describes Bartolo’s ability to throw a fastball wherever he pleases and describes it as a “bowling ball.” Harvey ends his article by saying while he enjoys having high velocity right now, he hopes that control will prolong his career just as it did for Colon.
Colon is also a wonderful person to have in the clubhouse for pure entertainment value. Every time he comes to bat for the Mets, every player is on the edge of their seats in the dugout and absolutely roar when he comes up with a hit. He is a reminder that baseball is a game and baseball is fun.
And of course everyone remembers the Bartolo Colon behind the back flip that came out of nowhere against the marlins.
Colon is still a solid pitcher and a reminder that it does not take an upper 90s fastball to be successful in the major leagues. He is an important veteran piece to have, a complete opposite of the other young power pitchers in the Mets rotation.