The Pitcher: Bartolo Colon
This decision was a no-doubter. While Jaime Garcia has given the Phillies fits over the course of his career, that was when they were a left-handed heavy team. I actually believe they may hit him well on Saturday night.
The real problem is the ageless wonder, Bartolo Colon. If there is another pitcher out there who has terrorized the Phillies the way Colon has the last few seasons, I am hard pressed to find that guy. The Braves make Colon’s eighth team since his debut with Cleveland in 1997. And most impressive is the fact that he has thrown more than 190 innings in each of the last four seasons (three of those after 40).
In his three seasons with the Mets, he faced the Phils 14 times, posting a 10-3 record and a 3.01 ERA. Colon gave up less than a hit per inning in those starts and only walked 14 batters in the 89.2 innings he pitched. The Phillies offense was able to muster seven homers off him over those three seasons, but he always ended up finding his way against them somehow.
The 43 year old version of Colon is far different than the 23 year old version. It is almost night and day. The electric arm he once had has been exchanged for slow, slower, and slowest. This season, the DR native has alternated good and bad starts with the only rough one coming at the hands of the Miami Marlins. He struggled through four, allowing six earned runs on seven hits, while walking two.
He was able to follow that with an impressive return to New York, where he baffled his former teammates. They scored one run on two hits in Colon’s six inning masterpiece. The Braves would win the game 3-1.
How can the Phils have the success of Miami and avoid the struggles of the Mets? They have to be aggressive. He is not going to miss there bats. As a matter of fact, after facing Syndergaard last night, his 88 MPH fastball is going to look like a slow-pitch softball league game to them. However, it works for him. He uses that fastball 90% of the time, and it somehow works.
The Phils will have to be decisive and hit fastballs he leaves up in the zone. If they play into his hand, it could be another long night for the Phillies offense against Colon.