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Mets Need to Hold on to Bartolo Colon

by Guy Kipp | Posted on Sunday, July 27th, 2014

The Mets made it known last week that pitcher Bartolo Colon was available for a trade before the July 31 trading deadline.

Now, the Mets should make sure they pull the hefty veteran off the market at once.

Pitcher Bartolo Colon Photo Credit: Dominick DiFucci

Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon
Photo Credit: Dominick DiFucci

This suggestion actually has nothing to do with the fact that Colon carried a perfect game into the eighth inning in his last start against the Mariners on Wednesday in Seattle.  Instead, it has to do with what’s going on around Colon on the Mets’ pitching staff.

In two starts after the All-Star break, Dillon Gee (4-3, 3.49 ERA in 11 starts) has pitched worse than he has in close to two years. Gee, who recently returned from a lat/shoulder blade issue that kept him sidelined for two months, had been so reliable for so long that to see his pitches treated like batting practice serves in two starts against San Diego (the worst hitting team in the major leagues) and Milwaukee should raise some serious red flags.

Jon Niese (5-6, 3.23 ERA in 19 starts), who just returned from a brief stint on the disabled list because the Mets were concerned about his diminishing velocity, gave up 11 hits in six innings in his first post-DL start against Seattle, and, while he pitched better in his next start against the Brewers, Niese nonetheless, came unglued in a hurry in the fifth inning of that losing start. Considering that Niese has already had to be either shut down temporarily or examined three different times now since the beginning of spring training, one has to wonder what his likelihood is of making it through the end of September intact.

Add to the issues with Gee and Niese the news that Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-3, 3.87 ERA), who had been shuttling between the starting rotation and the bullpen all season, but who had been a fairly useful member of the pitching staff, is now on the disabled list with elbow inflammation that might end up being quite serious, and the Mets’ biggest strength–their starting rotation–is starting to look a lot more vulnerable.

Since the beginning of June, rookie Jacob deGrom (4-5, 3.01 ERA in 13 starts) and sophomore Zack Wheeler (5-8, 3.64 ERA in a staff-high 21 starts) have pitched spectacularly and have been the Mets’ two best starting pitchers.  But deGrom is approaching his franchise-prescribed innings limit for the season and may end up being shut down, while still healthy within another month or so. Wheeler looks better and better, and stronger and stronger, and may, indeed, be the most logical choice to serve as the opening day pitcher in 2015.

But the Mets still need to get through the rest of this season–whether they’re buyers or sellers, contenders or pretenders–and Colon (9-8, 4.03 ERA in 20 starts), who leads the team in victories and who always reliably eats innings (fill in your own joke here) and usually gets the game to the seventh or eighth inning, would seem to be more valuable as a continuing member of the Mets’ rotation than as a trade chip who–given his age (42) and is contract status (signed through 2015)–would not bring very much value in return in a transaction.



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