When Does It Stop Being Early?

Adam Hunger / USA TODAY Sports

Bartolo Colon has played 18 years in the Majors, but prior to signing with the Mets he had a minimal amount of at-bats thanks to playing for mostly American League teams. Interleague play sent him to the plate a few times a year, but it wasn’t with the steady routine like last year.

That’s one excuse for his .032 average last year. Another could be the fact that Colon has swelled up roughly 100 pounds since debuting with the Cleveland Indians in 1994.

There’s always the excuse that pitchers can’t hit, something I’ve always marveled at since traditionally high school hurlers are usually the best athletes…and if that’s the case, why would they suddenly lose that ability?

You would think he had no athletic ability with a simple search showing the portly starter swinging so hard he loses his helmet. He didn’t look good at all last year, but whether he took that to heart or just remembered how to hit this year appears to be slightly different.

Colon is currently batting a robust .167, but more importantly he’s got two RBIs. That’s more than Ryan Howard, Jonathan Lucroy, Logan Morrison, and Melky Cabrera combined.

Granted, you can add his teammate Curtis Granderson to that list and end up with the same number so it’s easy to chalk that up to it being early in the season. But Colon’s 18 strikeouts against one walk in three games can’t be attributed to it being early. That’s just good pitching.

The Mets won their sixth straight game on Friday night, marking their best record 11 games into the season since 2006, when a 9-2 start was redeemed with a playoff appearance. Of course it’s too early to start printing glossy tickets and hanging banners, but this team’s play is looking encouraging.

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

They’re moving runners over and making productive outs. Eric Campbell has joined Daniel Murphy and Michael Cuddyer as professional hitters. That means if they’re up and a runner’s on third with less than two outs, they’ll find a way to make sure that runner scores. That’s what happened on Friday night as both Campbell and Cuddyer produced fly balls to increase the lead.

But the first run came in the 5th inning, thanks to a single by Wilmer Flores moving Campbell to second base. Anthony Recker, playing for catcher Travis d’Arnaud, walked to load the bases for Colon. His sac fly to center tied the score at 1-1 and made it hard to not take this team seriously.

Duda’s OPS is 20th in the league and his six doubles are second only to Troy Tulowitzki; Cuddyer had a slow start, but quietly is batting .317 with seven RBIs, and Granderson picked up his league-leading 11th walk. Jeurys Familia is 5-for-5 in save opportunities and trading for Jerry Blevins looks like the greatest deal since a Broadway producer sold his star pitcher to finance a play.

OK, the last one may be hyperbole but a six-game win streak can make any fan feel good. But does it matter when the streak takes place? If the Nationals, Mariners, or Padres won five straight, the same columnists that predicted them eventual champions before the season started would be looking for praise. So how much goes to a team that few picked to truly compete?

 

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