Starting pitcher Bartolo Colon will make his delayed debut for the Oakland Athletics on Saturday after serving his 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Will the veteran be able to prove the doubters wrong with a solid performance against the Houston Astros?
The move to start Colon is controversial in many ways. Several fans in Oakland have questioned why the team would not only give Colon a second chance, but why they would also give the 39-year-old $3 million with incentives that could pay him up to $6 million in 2013. Not to mention, starter Dan Straily pitched a phenomenal game Friday night, but is now being sent down to the minors to make room for Colon.
The Athletics are clearly banking on Colon to perform at a similar level as he did last season prior to the suspension. In 24 starts, the right-hander posted a 10-9 record with a 3.43 earned run average and 91 strikeouts in 152 1/3 innings. Colon also threw 38 consecutive strikes, the most in a big league game since 1988, in his fourth start of the season in 2012.
Even though it is unknown how much of an affect the performance-enhancing drugs had on his numbers, they are still pretty good for a pitcher who will turn 40 years old at the end of May.
“The velocity’s still there, his stuff all looks the same,” manager Bob Melvin told Athletics.com.” He’s the type of guy that, once the season gets going, he’s one of the few guys you know that what you see in spring is what you get.
“A veteran presence within the rotation, we don’t worry about him a whole lot.”
Hopefully, Melvin is correct for Oakland’s sake. The Athletics cannot afford to mess around too much with a starter that has seen better days, especially if they plan on clinching a second consecutive postseason berth.
Colon went 1-2 with a 6.30 ERA and 22 strikeouts in six games (three starts) in Spring Training.