Posted on June 22, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
The New York Mets were holding their breath after Bartolo Colon was forced to leave his start Tuesday after just four pitches, but a day later everything seems to be fine, and the ageless wonder is expected to make his next start.
Colon was struck on the thumb of his pitching hand by a line drive from Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield. He left the game immediately, forcing New York’s bullpen to pitch the final 8.2 innings, which they did with great success, helping the Mets win 2-1. “The first thought that popped into my head was, ‘God, please don’t let this be a broken thumb.’ I had never been hit there before,” Colon said after the game.
Fortunately for the Mets, X-rays taken after the game were negative, leading the team to diagnose Colon with a bruise. However, manager Terry Collins still wasn’t resting easy at that point. “One thing about Bartolo, if it hurts, if he gets hit by a line drive, he can pitch,” Collins told reporters Tuesday night. “Most of the time he’ll say, ‘Hey look, I’ll be OK.’ He didn’t do that tonight. And that’s when I said, ‘This is not a good sign.'”
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Collins and the Mets can now breathe a little easier, as Colon was re-evaluated Wednesday morning and appears well enough to make his next start, which is scheduled for Sunday against the Atlanta Braves. “He’s doing fine,” Collins explained Wednesday morning. “He’s got a little swelling left, but good flexibility, good strength. So right now we’re certainly planning on having him start on Sunday.”
The Mets have recalled pitcher Logan Verrett as a reinforcement for the team’s bullpen, as multiple relievers may be unavailable in the days to come, particularly Hansel Robles, who threw 3.2 innings after Colon was forced to leave after just four pitches and one out. It will be interesting to see if the Mets try to use Colon out of the bullpen for an inning or two between now and Sunday to provide the the bullpen with additional support and test Colon’s thumb prior to his next start so they can avoid another instance of the bullpen pitching 8.2 innings.
The positive news regarding Colon is also important for the Mets’ long-term prospects this season. Despite having one of the most talented rotations in baseball, New York does not have great depth beyond its top five starters, especially with Zack Wheeler experiencing a potential set back from Tommy John surgery. Verrett would be the most likely to step into the rotation, but he has proven to be more valuable as a versatile reliever than a long-term fill-in.
Colon has an ERA of 3.00 after 14 starts this year and has been as consistent and reliable as any starter the Mets have. Losing him to the DL would have created a noticeable hole in their rotation, adding to their relief on Wednesday with the news that the 43-year old should be able to make his next start despite a lingering bruise on his right thumb.