Bartolo Colón

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Bartolo Colon
(Bart; Bix Sexy)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 285 lb.

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Bartolo Colon-6488.jpg

Bartolo Colon first reached the majors with the Cleveland Indians at the start of the 1997 season, as a 23-year-old with one of the best fastballs in the majors. He was still pretty raw, however, and went just 4-7, 5-65 in 19 games for the pennant-winning team. He did not pitch in the postseason. In 1998, he had his first good season, and the first of eight consecutive seasons in which he won in double figures. He went 14-9, 3.71 in 13 starts, with 6 complete games and 2 shutouts. On June 26th, in an interleague game against the Houston Astros, he had an epic confrontation with Ricky Gutierrez which lasted 20 pitches before he managed to strike out Gutierrez swinging. It was the longest at-bat ever recorded until then, and remained the longest until topped by a 21-pitch battle between Brandon Belt and Jaime Barria on April 22, 2018. Gutierrez was long retired by then, but Bartolo was still an active player! He made the All-Star team for the first time that season and was the winning pitcher in the game. He also pitched in the postseason for the first time, picking up a win over the otherwise unbeatable New York Yankees with a complete game in Game 3 of the ALCS on October 9th. He went 18-5 in 1999 and 15-8 in 2000.

He had a remarkable season in 2002, when he started off by going 10-4 in 16 starts for the Indians, before being traded to the Montréal Expos on June 27th. He then continued to pitch extremely well for the Expos, also going 10-4 in 17 starts. That made him just the second pitcher post 1900, after Hank Borowy in 1945, to win at least 10 games for two different teams in the same season. He finished at 20-8, 2.93. After the season, the Expos traded him to the Chicago White Sox in return for three players who did not contribute much over the long term (Orlando Hernandez, Jeff Liefer and Rocky Biddle), which was in marked contrast to what the Expos had given up to pry him from Cleveland: three top-rank prospects who would all go on to have long and productive careers in Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips and Cliff Lee. He went 15-13 in his only season for the White Sox in 2003, leading the American League with 9 complete games, before becoming a free agent. He signed a contract with the Anaheim Angels and had the best season of his career in 2005, when he won the Cy Young Award with a record of 21-8, 3.48 for the now re-named Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. However, injury derailed him the next two years, as he put up ERAs of 5.11 in 10 games in 2006 and 6.34 in 19 games in 2007. Colon was 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA for the Aguilas Cibaeñas in the 2008 Caribbean Series. The game was seen as an attempt to win interest from major league teams. After two more unconvincing seasons, one with the Boston Red Sox in 2008 and one back with the White Sox in 2009, his career appeared to be over, but in fact, he was far from done.

After being out of the majors the entire 2010 season, Colon impressed New York Yankees coach Tony Pena during the 2010-11 Dominican League season and was offered an invitation to the team's spring training. He earned a spot in the bullpen and made his first three appearances of 2011 in relief of a struggling Phil Hughes, doing a solid job in long relief. When Hughes was placed on the disabled list on April 15th after three ineffective starts, Colon took his place in the starting rotation. Colon's remarkable return to form prompted questions about the experimental surgery that was performed on his shoulder and elbow in 2010, particularly rumors that human growth hormone, which is banned by Major League Baseball, was used as part of the procedure. Surgeon Joseph Purita, who performed the surgery which also involves the use of stem cells, denied that HGH had been used or that there was anything wrong with a procedure that he described as "the future of sports medicine". On May 30th, he pitched his first shutout in almost five years, blanking the Oakland A's, 5-0. However, Colon was placed on the disabled list on June 11th after leaving a start against the Cleveland Indians with a strained right hamstring. He was 5-3, 3.10 at the time. He returned in winning form on July 2nd, beating the New York Mets, 5-2. He finished the year 8-10, 4.00, in 29 games (26 starts), having pitched 164 1/3 innings for the Yankees and making an important contribution to a division title. He did not play in the postseason however.

After the season, it was clear that the Yankees, while happy that Colon and fellow veteran Freddy Garcia had bailed them out in 2011, were looking to build a younger and more reliable starting rotation for the future. As a result, they did not seriously pursue re-signing Bartolo, and on January 15, 2012, he moved to the Oakland Athletics as a free agent on a one-year deal worth $2 million. He won his first game in Tokyo, Japan, on March 29th, giving up only a run on 3 hits in 8 innings against the Seattle Mariners. He was having a very solid season for the A's, going 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA in 24 starts, when on August 22nd he was suspended for 50 games by MLB, having tested positive for the banned substance testosterone. His colleague from across the Bay, the San Francisco Giants' Melky Cabrera had been busted for using the same substance only eight days earlier. Colon apologized to fans and recognized his guilt, stating: "I accept responsibility for my actions and I will serve my suspension as required by the Joint Drug Program."

Colon went to play for the Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Winter League in the 2012-13 off-season, In his second start on October 28th, he was struck in the mouth by a batted ball and had to be hospitalized, although he did not suffer a fracture or any broken teeth. On November 3rd, the A's announced that they had signed him again for 2013. However, the A's confidence in the veteran was well-placed, as he was their best starter during the early stages of the season. He was named the AL's Pitcher of the Month for June when he went 5-0, 1.75. He was no stranger to the award, having won it three times previously, although the last instance had been in his Cy Young season in 2005. He was then named to the All-Star team, also a first since his Cy Young season. Colon's name was tied up in the Biogenesis Laboratories scandal early in the 2013 season, but he did not receive a suspension as it could not be determined that he had committed an additional offense to the one for which he had been punished in 2012. He finished the year with a record of 18-6, 2.65, having pitched 190 1/3 innings as the division-winning Athletics' ace. He started the opening game of the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers on October 4th and gave up 3 runs in 6 innings to be saddled with the 3-2 loss. When the decisive Game 5 came around though, A's manager Bob Melvin tagged rookie Sonny Gray to make the start, which he lost to Justin Verlander.

A free agent after the 2013 season, Colon cashed in on his success with a two-year deal with the New York Mets worth $20 million on December 11th, a rather hefty sum for a 41-year-old. On August 8, 2014, he recorded the 200th win of his career when he beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-4. He left with a 5-1 lead after 8 innings, but relievers Dana Eveland and Jenrry Mejia made things interesting by allowing 3 runs in the 9th. He became the third active pitcher to the milestone, after Tim Hudson and CC Sabathia. He finished the year at 15-13, 4.09 in 31 starts, pitching over 200 innings for the 8th time. Seemingly oblivious to Father Time, he then began 2015 by rolling off four straight wins in his first four starts. A 7-4 win against the Phillies on May 10th made him the first six-game winner in the majors that season. When Bruce Chen announced his retirement on May 18th that year, he became the last former member of the Montreal Expos to be still active in the major leagues, although Maicer Izturis was still hoping to come back from repeated injuries (he retired the following spring without making it back to the bigs). On May 31st, he became the first eight-game winner in the NL with a 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins. He also got an RBI double in the game, sweet payback after his curious hitting style, in which he seems to swing for the fences on every pitch and almost screws himself into the batter's box as a result, usually losing his helmet in the process, had become an internet meme. On June 18th, he lost a game against R.A. Dickey of the Toronto Blue Jays. It was remarkable as the first match-up of starting pitchers over 40 since August 15, 2008, when Greg Maddux had faced Jamie Moyer. He went though a tough stretch starting with that game until August 21st, with a 1-7 record over a period of 11 starts. He then turned things around again, putting together a 31-inning scoreless string from August 26-September 10, falling just short of the Mets team record held by Dickey. It was also the longest such streak by a player 42 or older, a record previously held by Cy Young, although his longevity had put him in a territory which few pitchers had ever reached. He finished the season at 14-13, 4.16 in 33 starts and 194 2/3 innings. In the postseason, he was used as a reliever as the Mets went with a quartet of young starters. He put up a 4.50 ERA in 3 games against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS, then was credited with a win in his only appearance against the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS. However, he was charged with the loss in Game 1 of the World Series when he entered in the 12th inning against the Kansas City Royals and gave up an unearned run in the bottom of the 14th. He pitched twice more in the Series, giving up a hit in one more inning of work. On December 16th, he re-signed with the Mets for $7.25 million.

On May 7, 2016 he set a major league record by becoming the oldest player to hit his first career home run. He connected off James Shields of the San Diego Padres for a two-run blast at Petco Park, three weeks shy of his 43rd birthday. The previous record-holder had been Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, whose first homer had come shortly after he had turned 40. He also won the game, 6-3. On August 15th, he drew his first walk in in 282 career plate appearances, quite a feat for a player known to swing away with all his might on any pitch anywhere near the plate; it was of course another record, for most PA's before drawing a first walk. In addition to his hitting feats, Colon was having a nice season on the mound too, being selected to take part in his fourth All-Star Game after going 7-4, 3.28 in the first half. For the third straight season, he ended up the top winner on the Mets' staff, at 15-8, 3.43, helping them to return to the postseason as a wild card.

On November 11, 2016, he signed a one-year contract estimated at $12.5 million with the Atlanta Braves, becoming the second 40-something starting pitcher to sign with the team in two days, after R.A. Dickey. The Braves obviously wanted to add some experience to what had been a very young staff the previous year as they headed to a new ballpark for 2017. His debut for his new team came in his old home park, Citi Field, on April 5th, 20 years and one day after in big league debut. He was as good as ever, tossing two-hit ball for 6 innings as the Braves defeated the Mets, 3-1, in 12 innings. On June 29th, the Braves handed him his unconditional release. He had gone 2-8 with a National League worst 8.14 ERA in 13 starts. The Mets were interested in having him back, but it was with the Minnesota Twins that he signed a minor league contract on July 7th and on July 18th, he made his first start for his new team, facing the New York Yankees. He pitched well until breaking down in the 5th and was eventually tagged with a 6-3 loss. His first few outings with the Twins were a bit rough, but he showed flashes of his old self in August. On August 4th, he pitched a complete game to defeat the Texas Rangers, 8-4, and on August 9th, he pitched 7 scoreless innings in a 4-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. He went 5-6, 5.18 in 15 games for the Twins to finish the year at 7-14, 6.48. He would likely have made a start in the Division Series had the Twins been able to make it past the Yankees in the Wild Card Game.

On February 4, 2018, the Texas Rangers announced that they had signed Colon to a minor league contract. He made the team out of spring training as the fifth starter, although he was by no means guaranteed to keep that spot in the long term. Still, he made that possibility more likely with an excellent first start on April 2nd, when he limited the Oakland Athletics to one run in six innings, the lone run coming on a solo homer by Matt Chapman. He was not involved in the decision as Texas eventually lost the game, 3-1. It was initially supposed to be a one-off start as Martin Perez was scheduled to come off the disabled list imminently, but the fact that his performance had been by far the best among the team's five starters through the first turn of the starting rotation gave management reason to re-think that premise. He was kept on the roster for the time being, in an otherwise undefined bullpen role while serving as insurance in case one of the five starters went down with an injury. When he made his next start, on April 15th, it was an absolute gem, as facing the defending World Champions, the Houston Astros, he set down the first 21 batters he faced in order before allowing a run in the 8th on a walk, a double and a sacrifice fly. Unfortunately for him, his opponent that day, Justin Verlander, was almost as good, allowing just one hit - a solo homer by Robinson Chirinos - in 8 innings, and Colon ended up with a no-decision as Texas won the game, 3-1, in 10 innings. On April 28th, he recorded a win for his 11th different team when he defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-4. That tied a record he now shared with three other pitching nomads: LaTroy Hawkins, Mike Morgan and Ron Villone. On June 6th, he recorded the 243rd victory of his career, tying Juan Marichal for most by a pitcher from the Dominican Republic. He reached another milestone on June 12th when he recorded his 2,500th career strikeout. On June 30th, he recorded his 245th win, tying Dennis Martinez for most by a pitcher from Latin America. It took a while, but he passed Martinez and became the sole holder of the record when he defeated the Seattle Mariners, 11-4, on August 7th. There was one more milestone he was shooting for, passing Marichal for most total innings pitched but he needed to throw 61 1/3 more to achieve that, with the season - and possibly his career - winding down.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 1995 Pitcher of the Year Carolina League Kinston Indians
  • 4-time AL All-Star (1998, 2005, 2013 & 2016)
  • AL Cy Young Award Winner (2005)
  • AL Wins Leader (2005)
  • AL Complete Games Leader (2003)
  • AL Shutouts Leader (2013)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 9 (1999, 2000, 2002-2005, 2013, 2014 & 2016)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 2 (2002 & 2005)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 8 (1998, 1999, 2001-2005 & 2014)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 2 (2000 & 2001)

AL Cy Young Award
2004 2005 2006
Johan Santana Bartolo Colon Johan Santana

Further Reading[edit]

  • Ted Berg: "Infielder's retirement leaves Bartolo Colon as the last former Expo in MLB", "For the Win!", USA Today Sports, March 4, 2016. [1]
  • Rhett Bollinger: "Bartolo receives standing O, plans 2018 return",, October 1, 2017. [2]
  • Mark Bowman: "Colon eager to start new season with Braves: 43-year-old pitcher looking to make history in Atlanta",, February 16, 2017. [3]
  • Anthony Castrovince: "Bart Land: The Last Pitcher Show?",, February 10, 2017. [4]
  • Charles Curtis and Ted Berg: "21 weird and true facts about Bartolo Colon on his 45th birthday", "For the Win!",, May 24, 2018. [5]
  • Matt Monagan: "The Life of Bartolo Colon: A True or False Quiz", "Cut4",, January 16, 2018. [6]
  • Terence Moore: "Colon proving age doesn't matter: Mets pitcher has skills, durability that belie his 42 years",, December 20, 2015. [7]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Bartolo Colon's Mets chapter almost done - but they'll never forget him", USA Today Sports, July 19, 2015. [8]
  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "Appreciation: Bartolo Colon leaves behind a legion of adoring fans", USA Today Sports, June 29, 2017. [9]

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