Though an enormous cloud of suspicion hangs over the veteran right-hander, Bartolo Colon is undeniably a top contender for the AL Cy Young Award.
On Saturday in Arlington with the Oakland Athletics clinging to a 1-0 lead over the Texas Rangers, Colon reared back and pumped in a 94 mph heater. With the tying-run standing on third, Adrian Beltre gave the ball a ride, but the drive died on the warning track as the veteran starter escaped yet another jam.
Grant Balfour locked down the ninth as the Athletics increased their lead (at the time) to 5.5 games over their AL West rivals thanks to the 1-0 win. Colon delivered eight shutout innings on the night, and has now won two straight and allowed just one run over 14 innings in the process. Manager Bob Melvin noted to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle: “If there’s ever a time to find your second wind, that would be it.”
On the year, the big right-hander is now 16-6 with a 2.73 ERA. His 16 wins as a 40-year-old are second only to Jack Quinn, who set the record back in 1928 with 18 wins. Jamie Moyer in 2008 was the last big leaguer who won 16 games as a 40-year-old. However, his numbers would be remarkable for any age. His 2.73 ERA is his lowest in 16 years, and ranks second in the AL on the season.
Colon’s Cy Young candidacy is best exemplified by his strikeout numbers. With seven punchouts against the Rangers, the wily right-hander surged past 100 on the year as he now has 101. Darvish, the hard-throwing right-hander, who he outdueled in Arlington, has 256. So, in 15 extra innings of work, the Rangers’ righty has racked up 155 more strikeouts than Colon.
That works out to more than five-and-a-half complete games of nothing but Ks. For what it’s worth, Quinn, whose 18 wins Colon is tracking, recorded 43 Ks in 211.1 innings.
The critics will point to the 50-game suspension that MLB slapped Colon with last summer to discredit his candidacy. The fact is that whatever Colon’s doing, they don’t make performance enhancers that improve your control. Colon has a 1.36 BB/9 rate, which is second only to David Price in the AL and fifth-best in Athletics history.
He’s walked 27 batters in total over 28 starts, while the team’s closer Balfour has walked 24 in 120.9 fewer innings. Colon wasn’t supposed to be a Cy Young candidate, but then again, he wasn’t supposed to be an All-Star either.
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