Bartolo Colon: What Do Looming Biogenesis Bans Mean For Oakland Athletics All-Star?

By Karl Buscheck

It’s being reported that MLB is closing in on the Biogenesis-linked players. Ryan Braun has reportedly already refused to answer the questions of MLB investigators, and Alex Rodriguez is due to be interviewed on Friday in Tampa.

Reports suggest that the suspensions of upwards of 20 players could come down as soon as sometime after the All-Star break next week.

So, just what exactly does this mean for Oakland Athletics right-hander Bartolo Colon?

The 40-year-old is in an interesting spot. He’s one of just three Biogenesis-linked players who actually failed a drug test last season. He served a 50-game suspension, and since returning has been on a historically awesome run.

In his last 10 starts, Colon is 9-1 with a 1.48 ERA. The only loss during that stretch was a seven-inning effort in which he allowed just two runs. On the season, the Athletics lone All-Star representative is 12-3 with a 2.69 ERA and 2 complete games.

His 12 wins mark the most for an Athletics starter before the All-Star break since Mark Mulder reached a dozen wins in both 2003 and 2004. The team is 14-4 (.778) when he takes the mound in 2013.

Many have wondered whether the native of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic is up to his old tricks that got him into trouble last season.

When asked about the topic in his weekly interview on 95.7 FM The Game, Mulder doesn’t seem to know what to say. The two-time All-Star can’t seem to explain how a guy is pitching the best baseball of his life at 40 years old.

Mulder is just 35 years old himself, and he last appeared in an MLB game in 2008, after injuries cut his career short. It does seem, well, odd that a 40 year old is consistently hitting 94 or 95 MPH on the radar gun. So, perhaps Mulder is on something.

But the key to Colon’s success in 2013 hasn’t been the speed of his pitches, it’s been his ridiculous control of them. In 120.1 innings Colon has walked just 15 batters. He’s already made 18 starts this season, so essentially if you want to get on base against Colon you’re going to have to get a hit.

It always seems as though walks come back to haunt pitchers, and Colon has done a remarkable job of avoiding free passes.

However, Colon is doing it. If the big righty does indeed get popped, there’s going to be a huge hole at the top of the team’s rotation.

The oft-injured Brett Anderson could enter the picture if the team does in fact lose Colon. Susan Slusser reported that the left-hander is due to throw long toss today, but noted that he still hasn’t had his first bullpen session scheduled. So, clearly Anderson is still a ways out.

Sonny Gray is the other name to keep an eye on. The 18th overall pick in the 2011 draft has moved quickly through the Athletics system and is due to join the club in Pittsburgh — at least initially in a relief role. In Triple-A he was 8-5 with a 2.81 ERA. In 102.1 innings, he struck out 107 batters and he allowed just four home runs.

At this point, it’s unclear how long of a suspension Colon could be facing. That is, if he’s even in danger of being suspended at all.

If MLB determines that Colon lied to its investigators last year about his connection to the Biogenesis clinic, Colon could be in serious trouble. He could be slapped with a 100-game ban as a second-time offender, and his historic run in 2013 would be over.

If Colon has been using performance enhancers since his return from his suspension then clearly he should be banned again. But if he ends up getting suspended this year for something that happened last season, that’s just crazy.

Who knows what Colon has been up to in 2013. Upon first glance, the veteran looks wildly out of shape, but upon further examination you can see that he’s actually a remarkably strong guy.

It sure would be a shame to see a pitcher, who’s arguably throwing as well as any 40 year old ever has, get banned from the 2013 season, and possibly from baseball altogether. One thing, however, is clear. The looming Biogenesis suspensions will have zero impact on Colon when he makes his next start.

Karl Buscheck is an Oakland Athletics writer for Follow him on Twitter @Karl Buscheck and add him to your network on Google+.


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