Schott: Is Colon the Mets ace?

Bartolo Colon has been the rock of the Mets’ rotation and a proven “stopper,” and the Mets needed him to be that again on Sunday, after they dropped the first two games of their series with the lowly Miami Marlins.

The Mets’ rotation features the much-hyped duo of Matt Harvey and Jacob DeGrom, and the excitement of the new kid in town, Noah Syndegaard, but it is Colon that is the go-to guy who has been the most consistent.

In his first seven starts of the year, Colon gave them an average of 6 innings and 2 runs per game, and he netted six wins. He hit some adversity when he gave up 6 runs (5 earned) in 5 innings against Milwaukee on May 15th. His next start was no better, as he surrendered 9 runs (8 earned) in 4 1/3 innings vs. St. Louis on the 20th.

Colon was back to his old self on Memorial Day when he faced the Phillies. The Mets were coming off a dismal weekend in Pittsburgh when they were swept by the Pirates. He proved to be the stopper once again as he gave the Mets 6 innings, and giving up 3 runs on 6 hits, and the Mets won it 6-3.

Mets Manager Terry Collins said in his pregame remarks on Sunday morning of Colon getting wins after the Mets lost consecutive games, “He’s just a real good pitcher. He just loves to compete. I don’t know if he’s aware of it, he may be, but I think he takes it upon himself to be the guy that everybody depends on, I really do. I think that’s part of his makeup and that’s why I think he pitches like he does. He just never changes the way he goes about things. I think when his teammates need him, he steps up and he takes it as a personal challenge, ‘hey look, I got it, we’re gonna win today’ and that’s why, you talk about what he does in the clubhouse, just pay attention. He doesn’t have to say a word. If you’re just a player in there, or a pitcher especially, pay attention, there’s a reason why this guy’s pitched for 19 years. If you can do nothing else except learn how he goes about things mentally – you don’t have to copy him, don’t copy him physically (taking a lighthearted jab at Colon’s weight), but just how he gets ready to pitch every night, I think it’s gonna help your career.”

On Sunday, Colon gave up a single to Dee Gordon to open the game. Then, he tried numerous times to pick him off. On one attempt, it looked like he got him, as Duda swiped his glove, tagging Gordon on the jersey. Gordon was ruled safe, but the Mets challenged, and after a two-minute-and-50-second review, the call was upheld. The length of the review could have hurt Colon, but he recovered to strike out Martin Prado.

Colon then faced Giancarlo Stanton, who had two home runs on Saturday. In this at-bat, Colon showed why he is the Mets’ stopper, the bulldog on the mound. He jammed Stanton, breaking his bat and forcing him to fall down on the swing, inducing a weak pop-up down the first base line that was caught by catcher Anthony Recker.

Miami got a run in the second inning, but Colon settled down and started a streak where he retired nine straight Marlins.

Colon did it with his bat in the bottom of the second inning, as he laced a double to center field, just his second career extra-base hit, to score Anthony Recker and give the Mets a 2-1 lead. Miami starter David Phelps did not manage Colon’s at-bat well, as he threw one low and away for a wild pitch while Colon was looking to bunt, and then giving him a belt-high fastball when Colon was looking to swing, and he took advantage of it.

Things turned in the fifth inning when Christian Yelich doubled, was bunted over by Phelps, and scored on a groundout by Jhonatan Solano to cut the Mets’ lead to 3-2.

In the sixth inning, Colon retired Stanton on a lazy fly ball to center field, making him 0-for-3 at that point. Then, Justin Bour tore into one, sending a drive to right center field for a homer to tie it at 3. Colon responded by retiring the next five Marlins.

Colon went 7 innings, allowing 3 runs, all earned, on 6 hits, with 2 strikeouts and no walks. The Mets got a run in the bottom of the seventh to take a 4-3 lead and secure Colon the win.

Colon improved to 8-3 and tied Seattle’s Felix Hernandez for the league-lead in wins with 8. St. Louis’ Michael Wacha and Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole are next with 7 wins. Colon went 4-1 in April and 4-2 in May, and became the third Met to win at least four games in the first two months of the season, with Jerry Koosman in 1968 and Bobby Jones in 1997 being the other two.

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