I was one of them.
Rookie right-hander Brandon Beachy came off the disabled list on Wednesday to strike out a career-high 11 batters in six innings against the Blue Jays. The only run off him came courtesy of Jose Bautista’s major league-high 22nd homer.
Beachy, who missed a month with a strained left oblique, moved to 2-1 with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP in nine starts this season. In 12 starts since debuting last year, he has a 3.17 ERA.
Now, one doesn’t have to dig very hard to come up with pitchers who have started off their careers with a handful of good starts and quickly faded from there. Some guys have just enough deception in their deliveries or a tricky enough breaking ball to excel once around the league and then fall apart soon thereafter.
Still, most of those guys weren’t striking out batters like Beachy has so far. He has 72 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings as a major leaguer. This year, he has a 57/14 K/BB ratio in 50 1/3 innings.
That’s exceptionally encouraging, and it suggests that Beachy is here so stay. His fastball isn’t outstanding at 90-94 mph, but he has four legitimate pitches and very good command. Since I didn’t see a true outpitch, I viewed him as maybe a fifth starter and more likely a middle reliever entering this season. Now he looks much more like a legitimate No. 3.
If he wasn’t 44 years-old we’d just call it a slump, but the way Bartolo Colon is pitching right now makes you wonder if the end is nigh.
Colon was shelled this afternoon, giving up seven runs on ten hits and walking three in five innings of work to take the loss against the Pirates. That brings his ERA up to 6.96 on the year. He’s allowed five or more runs in five of his ten starts and opposing batters are hitting .320 against him. One of the big reasons he had been so effective into his 40s had been his low walk rate — he led the NL in this category for the past two seasons — but he’s walking more guys this year than last.
The Braves picked up Colon for the reasons a lot of rebuilding teams pick up veteran starters: to provide innings and stability until the younger arms of the future can mature. Colon, however, has been the weakest link of the Braves rotation.
At some point, every baseball player reaches the end. Almost all of them do it before the age of 44. One hopes, given his history and popularity that Colon is just experiencing a rough patch and that, by mid season, he’ll be reliably pumping strikes into the zone the way he has the past few seasons. But with each bad start he registers this year, that’s seeming like more and more of a stretch.
Last night Braves reliever Josh Collmenter surrendered three homers and seven runs in the 10th inning of a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came into the game when it was tied 5-5 so, yeah, ouch. Today Collmenter is on his way to no longer being a Braves reliever as he has been designated for assignment.
Collmenter made 11 appearances for the Braves, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 17 innings. If he doesn’t latch on someplace else he can take heart that his final act in the big leagues was striking out former MVP Andrew McCutchen. If only he hadn’t surrendered consecutive homers to David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer just before that. Oh well. Take the good with the bad.
Right-hander Matt Wisler, who has been no great shakes in the bigs himself, was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett before today’s series finale against the Pirates. He’s currently throwing mopup duty for Bartolo Colon, who got shelled for seven runs in four innings.
Given how Colon is going, maybe the Braves will be thinking about some more transactions soon.