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Bartolo Colon Still Proving Doubters Wrong

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks…

Earlier this week we discussed the possibility of Russell Martin being the steal of the offseasonafter the Yankees signed him to a one-year, $7 million contract. Well, Bartolo Colon is showing why he may just be the biggest surprise of the early MLB season. The big right hander is giving the Yankees a solid back end starter.

With Phil Hughes looking more and more as though his “dead arm” is much more serious than originally thought, Colon has been exceptional in his place. Through two starts, Colon is 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA. He has given up just three earned runs in 14.2 innings as a starting pitcher this season.

In addition to his two starts, Colon had previously appeared in three games out of the bullpen for New York. His full season stats are currently a 2-1 record and 2.77 ERA. You would have to go way back to his early career to find numbers like this.

When invited to spring training, the Yankees could not do more than give him the chance to make the team, there were no guarantees. In fact, many believed there was no real chance. Colon proved everyone wrong by earning a roster spot, but being placed in the bullpen when Manager Joe Girardi chose to put Freddy Garcia in the rotation.

With Phil Hughes down with the injury, Colon got his chance to start games once again. With Garcia and Colon, the Yankees have two veteran pitchers with experience and pitching knowledge. The Yankees have a tough decision to make now as far as what to do with veteran Kevin Millwood who is currently pitching in Triple-A. Millwood can opt out of his contract if he is not on the major league roster by May 1st.

Colon is getting the job done by throwing strikes and keeping the ball in the park. Through 26 total innings pitched this season, Colon has walked just six opposing batters and only allowed two home runs. He has struck out 26, an average of one per inning. Colon is throwing 65% of his pitches for strikes.

Last night, Colon went eight innings, giving up just seven hits and one earned run in the Yankees 3-1 win over the Chicago White Sox. Second baseman Robinson Cano have the Yankees a 3-0 lead with a three-run homer in the first inning. That was all Colon needed.

Opponents are hitting just .237 off Colon has he has given up 23 hits in his 26 innings.

With Colon now putting together top notch performances, the Yankees starting rotation is coming together. Sabathia remains the ace, followed by an improved A.J. Burnett. After that, veterans Garcia and Colon have been excellent. The youngster of the group, Ivan Nova struggled early in the year but has been much better of late.

As much as it pains me to say it, Yankees GM Brian Cashman may be the executive of the year if his gambles on players like Russell Martin, Freddy Garcia, and now Bartolo Colon continue to pay off the way they have so far in 2011.

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