What the heck is going on with Bartolo Colon? His incredible run of success continued last night, as he fired eight innings of one-run ball in a 6-1 victory over the Cardinals at O.Co Coliseum. He has wins in each of his last eight starts and is the first pitcher to win seven in a row since turning 40 years old.
Colon scattered six hits and walked just one batter while striking out five. In his typical efficient fashion, he threw 70 out of 101 pitches for strikes and first-pitch strikes to 22 out of 29 batters faced. The veteran right-hander is now 11-2 on the season to go along with a 2.79 ERA and 61/13 K/BB ratio in 106 1/3 innings over 16 starts.
As Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle points out, the last time Colon had 11 wins prior to the All-Star break was in 2005 as a member of the Angels. While Johan Santana was the more deserving candidate, he eventually went on to win the American League Cy Young Award that year.
Your Friday box scores:
Indians 19, White Sox 10; Indians 9, White Sox 8
Brewers 3, Pirates 10
Yankees 3, Orioles 4
Nationals 6, Mets 4
Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 7
Padres 9, Marlins 2
Diamondbacks 0, Braves 3
Tigers 6, Rays 3
Royals 9, Twins 3
Giants 1, Rockies 4
Phillies 16, Dodgers 1
Angels 4, Astros 2
Reds 0, Rangers 4
Cubs 4, Mariners 5 (10 innings)
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.