The coolest and most fun to watch baseball players are consistently the guys who look like they have no business in any kind of athletic contest, yet still manage to dominate. Baseball is a sport for all shapes and sizes, and no one has illustrated that better than Bartolo Colon.
The beefy 44-year-old Ranger looks so vulnerable flinging his barely-90s fastball across the plate, yet somehow, at least on Sunday, his stuff was a match for Justin Verlander’s. Colon stayed perfect through seven innings against the reigning World Series champions, and even though he exited in the eighth after giving up a walk, a double and a sac fly, everything up to that point was magical.
Catcher Robinson Chirinos explained the unlikely success as such:
“His two-seamer moved so much. They see it is going to be outside and it runs back across the corner. You have to commit to swing before you see the pitch, because if you wait to see the pitch, you aren’t going to be able to swing.”
Had Colon kept it up , he would have surpassed Nolan Ryan as the oldest pitcher to throw a no-hitter by 236 days, and Randy Johnson as the oldest to be perfect by four years. And though he looked washed-up at the beginning of last year—when he posted an 8.14 ERA in 10 starts with the Braves—he righted the ship with some time in Minnesota, got a minor-league contract to start 2018 with the Rangers, and after last night, who knows how long he’ll stick around.
Colon is now the Rangers’ best pitcher by WAR, with a fantastic 17 strikeouts to two walks in 18.2 innings pitched. Some of those have been in mop-up duty, and others, of course, have been big starts, but as long as the Rangers stay near last place, Bartolo should still get opportunities somewhere.
“I don’t ever think about what age I am or who is facing me,’’ Colon said through an interpreter after the game. “I always try to do my job, and I always feel happy doing my job, and that’s what I think about.’’
Truly, anything seems possible now. And that’s always been what Bartolo Colon is about.