Bartolo Colon, His Importance, and the Swirling Winds of Biogenesis


After a crushing defeat Tuesday night at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers, the Oakland Athletics needed a boost.  They should have been going for a sweep, but instead had to settle for going for a series victory, losing the series would be unacceptable.  They turned to the ageless one, the most consistent starting pitcher thus far in 2013, and the man who they may be at risk of losing once again, Bartolo Colon.

Jun 5, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon pitches in the 1st inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

We all remember the shocking news last year when Colon was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for synthetic testosterone. The Athletics were in the thick of the pennant race and were relying on Colon to give them valuable innings down the stretch.  But they were going to have to carry on the fight without their big hurler.  Much to the surprise of many, after it was presumed that Colon’s days as an Athletic, and possibly as a major leaguer had come to an end, the Athletics promptly resigned him to a contract for 2013.

Colon clearly wanted to not only extend his career, but make amends for his mistake in 2012 that could have cost the Athletics a shot at the postseason.  Thankfully it didn’t though.  He’s done more than his part thus far.  How good has he been?  The best he’s pitched since winning the Cy Young Award in 2005 and he said as much to Jane Lee following today’s win in Milwaukee.  He also mentioned how he was fat, his words, not mine.

Colon is 7-2, with an ERA of just 3.14.  He’s walked a total of 6 batters all season in 70.1 innings of work.  His .286 BABIP and 3.33 FIP indicate that he really has been this effective, and isn’t running on luck.  A performance like this is hardly something the Athletics can afford to lose.

That’s why the report from ESPN’s Outside the Lines on Tuesday was so disheartening.  Word is that MLB may be seeking to suspend 20 or so players who were involved with the Biogenesis clinic in Miami that has been at the forefront of the PED problems in baseball in the last 6 months or so.  Bartolo was linked to the clinic, and could be subject to another suspension that could reach 100 games.  A suspension like that would put Colon out of commission for the rest of the regular season.  The A’s can ill afford to lose Colon for that length of time.

My personal stance on the virtues of such a suspension taking place for Colon, who’s already been disciplined for his indiscretion, is that the league is punishing Colon twice for the same crime.  Chances are the player’s union will fight this suspension, so hopefully that would delay any disciplinary action until after this season.  At this point, I truly don’t even care anymore about players using PED’s.  I don’t understand how anyone could care still because the use of these enhancers is so rampant throughout sports.  It may seem callous, but as long as you don’t get caught it no longer bothers me.  When it negatively affects the team, then it’s a problem.  I guess I’ve simply given up on the notion of a clean game.

The presence of Bartolo Colon has been crucial to the success of the Athletics last year, thus far in 2013, and will be crucial to their success for the duration of this season.  Let’s hope we get to have the big man pitching for the Athletics and pounding the strike zone like only he can for the rest of 2013.