Bartolo Colon hadn’t pitched a full season in the majors since 2005, but that didn’t stop the Yankees from extending a non-guaranteed offer to him after he pitched well in the Winter Leagues while playing for manager Tony Pena.
EXPECTATIONS: It’s safe to say that nobody expected much from Colon. Even though he pitched well in spring training, he barely got a spot on the team because even coaches and the front office didn’t know what he could give them.
AN EARLY OPPORTUNITY: Despite making the team he was the last man in the bullpen and only got a shot to do more than that when Phil Hughes struggled early. Colon made the most of that opportunity, pitched dominantly, and eventually found a spot in the rotation.
1ST HALF ALL-STAR: Colon did so well in the first half of the season that it looked like he could even make the All-Star team. Through his first 13 appearances he had a 3.10 ERA, 72 strikeouts and 18 walks in 78.1 innings. He was pitching so effectively that people started taking a second look at the offseason stem-cell procedure he had.
HAMSTRING INJURY: Colon missed the last part of June with a hamstring injury and was never quite the same. His second half ERA was 4.81 with 63 strikeouts and 22 walks in 86 innings. He still could occasionally put together a good start, but his stuff almost completely evaporated. His once 95-97 mph fastball became a flat 90-92 mph pitch. His control was never quite the same as well which is why he was eventually left off the playoff roster.
VERDICT: Colon’s season has to be considered a success because nobody expected him to come anywhere near 164.1 innings that he threw. However, with his decline the Yankees offseason chances took a big hit as they struggled to find the consistent starting pitching behind CC Sabathia that he provided in the first half.
GOING FORWARD: Colon is a free agent and Brian Cashman has said that under the right circumstances he would consider bringing him back next year. However, those circumstances are probably similar to the non-guaranteed contract offer he got last year. Whether or not Colon would still be open to that remains to be seen. Unless he is especially motivated to stay with the Yankees, it is hard to imagine him in Pinstripes in 2012.