Monday, October 10, 2005

Tonight, our season comes down to Bartolo Colon.

This is, of course, exactly the sort of game he was signed to pitch: the must-win. A game where a nominal ace needs to step up and silence the bats of the opposition.

Is The Fat Man up to the task?

Your guess is as good as mine. As you know, Big Bart's bad back has been bothering him of late. On August 30, Bartolo pitched into the 10th inning as the Angels lost to the A's. His next start was curtailed due to back stiffness; from that start forward, including postseason, Colon has thrown 40 innings, allowing 22 earned runs for a 4.95 ERA. He has managed to strike out a healthy 33 batters in that period, and has also issued only 9 walks. His ERA is pushed up by one bad start against Detroit, where he allowed three home runs.

In short, Colon has generally pitched pretty well through the pain. The Angels are going to need to his best effort tonight -- Shields and Escobar are pretty damn close to spent, one would think.

And, not to look ahead, but if the ALCS really does start tomorrow (there has been some talk of pushing back the start to Wednesday), tonight's winner's going to have some tough times against Chicago. While the ChiSox have been able to rest up and set their rotation, the Halos and Villains have to go balls-out with their top pitchers tonight.

One note about Game 4 ... Scot Shields threw 36 pitches Friday night. Kelvim Escobar threw 26. That's a pretty substantial amount of pitches, so I was a bit surprised to see Mike go to the pen so quick after Lackey gave up his only run. Sure, Big John had been a bit wild -- the Yanks are very patient with his slurve, and have walked 14 times against him in 22 innings, including the postseason. But he had thrown only 78 pitches, was keeping the ball down (8 groundouts to 3 flyouts), and that's asking a lot from your pen.

Unsurprisingly, Shields, with only one day of rest, didn't have much. Kelvim was fine, but he threw 35 pitches last night, calling into question his availability in Game 5. Shields threw 25, so he's thrown 51 pitches in three days ... not debilitating, probably, but trying to stretch these guys for more than an inning apiece may not have the best results. Frankie will likely have to step it up, and may be called upon to make a relatively long appearance.

However, there is some good news in the fact that Mariano Rivera also threw 36 pitches last night. He did have more rest than our guys, however, so who knows what effect that might have on him if he appears tonight.

It will be up to Colon and Mussina to bail their bullpens out, and give their teams some quality innings.

Bartolo: earn thy money.

Yes Bart - earn not only your money, but clinch any doubt that you should get the Cy Young this year. GO ANGELS!
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