Following the worst beginning to any season in Bartolo Colon’s storied career, the Atlanta Braves were forced to reconsider their rotation late Monday night. Manager Brian Snitker was noncommittal on the 44-year-old right-hander making his next start after an 11-4 bashing from the Philadelphia Phillies, and with Tuesday afternoon’s transaction Colon’s future in Atlanta is unknown.
Colon was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left oblique strain that, according to Snitker, he’s been dealing with for an extended period of time. (Set aside the fact that Colon has repeatedly stated that he’s healthy throughout the campaign, including Monday night.)
His absence opens the door on Saturday for a number of potential options for the team’s doubleheader, including familiar faces Matt Wisler and Aaron Blair or Triple-A Gwinnett arms Lucas Sims, Sean Newcomb or Andrew Albers. Snitker said former Braves standout Kris Medlen, who continues to try and work his way back to the majors in Atlanta’s farm system, is not ready to compete for a rotation spot after just four minor-league starts this season.
Colon has been plagued by some misfortune this season — he’s traditionally a groundball machine who pitches to contact, placing greater emphasis on his defense not making myriad mistakes like it did in Anaheim — but there’s little justification for carrying a 7.78 ERA through 12 starts.
After six consecutive seasons of performing like a mid-rotation staple for the Yankees, Athletics and Mets, it is evident that Colon is not the same pitcher in 2017.
The plan, for the moment, is for Colon to re-join the rotation in 10 days. However, a quality outing or two from his replacement could alter Atlanta’s trajectory, either by parting ways with the cult hero (Colon signed a one-year, $12.5 million deal this offseason) or sending him to the bullpen.
Colon is not likely to be the last domino to fall in the Braves starting staff — for a variety of reasons.
Fellow 40-something starter R.A. Dickey has encountered his own share of struggles this season while left-hander Jaime Garcia could be the team’s most valuable trade commodity in the coming months. All three pitchers are eligible to be free agents after the 2017 season.
Couple the ongoing concerns surrounding Colon and Dickey with preseason No. 1 Julio Teheran’s forgettable first 12 starts — arguably the most concerning trend of the campaign to date — and the Braves have received the second-worst production from their starting pitchers in the majors.
Sending Colon to the disabled list is merely the first attempt to right the ship.
Braves LIVE To Go: Atlanta faces rotation decision after Bartolo Colon struggles again