Minnesota Twins: The magical run of baseball hero Bartolo Colon

SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 28: Bartolo Colon
SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 28: Bartolo Colon /

Bartolo Colon makes his Minnesota Twins debut Tuesday. His career has been a never ending line of mythical comebacks. Does he have another one left?

The Minnesota Twins have a modern baseball cult icon taking the mound Tuesday night against the New York Yankees. “Big Sexy” Bartolo Colon will be making his first start for the tenth different team of his career. Big Bart has had a rough go round this season, posting a 2-8 record with an 8.14 ERA with the Atlanta Braves before being designated for assignment.

Colon was then signed to a minor league deal by the Twins and sent to Triple-A Rochester where he made one start. During that start, Colon was not impressive by any stretch of the imagination. He threw just 3.2 innings, giving up four earned runs on four hits and striking out five. He walked two. It was not promising in the slightest, but he has been called up to start Tuesday night.

While Colon has not been great this season, he is just a year removed from an All-Star appearance. He may be 44 years old, but he has been able to beat all odds and continue to pitch despite his age and physique. He has been considered down and out on multiple occasions, but has found a way to return to form and pitch well. While unlikely, this could be one of those times.

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Colon has revived his career multiple times.

This is not the first time people around baseball have felt Colon’s career was on the fritz. After an injury plagued year in 2007, Colon was able to show he could pitch again with Boston during a short stint in 2008, going 4-2 with a 3.92 ERA. He then injured his shoulder while with the White Sox in 2009 and ended up missing the whole 2010 season.

Colon would come back in 2011 as a member of the New York Yankees. Making 26 starts in 29 appearances, he would go 8-11 with a 4.00 ERA while recording 135 strikeouts in 164.1 innings. That performance was good enough to get him a shot in the Oakland Athletics’ starting rotation in 2012. He would post a 10-9 record with a 3.43 ERA, his first full season with a sub-4.00 ERA since his Cy Young Award winning 2005 season. Things were going great, until he was suspended 50 games for PEDs, ending his season at the end of August.

After being suspended for PEDs at his age, many would have thought Colon was done. The Athletics did not, signing him for another year. They were not wrong. Colon would post a record of 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA in just under 200 innings. It was the lowest ERA of his career and he made his first All-Star team since 2005. At age 40, Big Bart was still pitching effectively despite numerous setbacks.

The birth of a legend.

Colon would spend the next three seasons as a member of the New York Mets. Long after many would have thought he would be out of baseball, he was an effective part of a playoff-caliber team. He would have a record of 44-34 the next three seasons and pitched over 190 innings in each of those campaigns.

Colon went from lovable to an icon during his time in the Big Apple. He was given the nickname “Big Sexy” and was known for his stature and his comical at bats. He would,somehow, become the oldest player in MLB history to hit his first home run in a game against the Padres, further solidifying his spot in baseball fans’ hearts.

Colon made the All-Star team in 2016, which capped off what was sure to be an unforgettable legacy in a Mets uniform. With such hype surrounding the legend of “Big Sexy”, the offseason going into 2017 was sure to be good for the round king of the mound. In what would have been thought to be a joke ten years prior, Colon signed a deal worth $12.5 million to pitch for the Braves in 2017. Fans were hopeful he had something left in the tank. The legend, so far in 2017, has hit yet another snag.

Can he do it again?

His season with Atlanta had been disastrous. With only two wins and an ERA almost in double digits, Colon was designated for assignment. He was released on July 4th. Many wondered if it would be the end of an era. The Minnesota Twins wanted to give him one last shot to see if the magic was truly endless.

Big Bart will have to prove it. If he cannot pitch effectively for the Twins, this may be the end of the road. Colon has heard it all before, though, and just when you think there is no way he recovers, he does. When everyone else says “no”, Big Sexy says “yes”. It has been a recurring story in his career and every time it happens it becomes more and more unreal. If it happens this time, you would have to think his career could last forever.

There are many definitive signs saying he can’t make the magic work again. He gives up runs by the bunch, almost a run per inning. Not to mention he was doing it against lineups that had pitchers hitting in the National League. He has had trouble getting outs at a rate we have never seen from him. On top of that, he is 44 years old. He is the oldest player in Major League Baseball. Heck, he is the last active player in baseball who played for the Montreal Expos. His body can only do this for so long, especially with his stature.

On the other hand, this could be Big Sexy’s biggest comeback yet. He could somehow return to his iconic form (minus the incredible at bats, darn you American League), but it is highly unlikely. With the likes of Dillon Gee waiting to either get a call up or look for work elsewhere, Colon is on a short leash.

Especially with the difficulties the Twins have had trying to find quality starting pitching after Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios. The Twins need help fast and will not wait for Colon to try to find himself again.

We’ve said it before, but it may be true this time.

While this fairy tale has been written and revised many times by Colon, it has likely had its last chapter written. If not, the story of Bartolo Colon goes from fairy tale to a legend of folk lore. Every sign points to the ride being over, but he keeps coming back. Unfortunately, it looks to be the end of the road for our baseball hero.

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We will know more on Tuesday, but it seems as if the incredible run he has had in the big leagues is over. If so, it was an incredibly entertaining ride. If not, there may never be an end. Here’s to hoping he can make another improbable comeback. The Twins will benefit greatly if he somehow has more left in the tank.