Ageless righty Bartolo Colon helped pitched the Mets to a Wild Card berth with a five-inning, six-strikeout performance today, and he’s been a big asset to an injury-riddled Mets rotation thanks in large part to the movement on his two-seam fastball, as James Wagner of the New York Times writes in a fascinating look at the 43-year-old enigma’s repertoire. Colon learned his current grip on the pitch from Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, then perfected it over time so that he can aim for a left-handed batter’s ribs, only to have the ball break back toward the plate. “He’s got such hand, finger and wrist strength that he’s able to manipulate the ball,” says Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud. “It’s an art that not that many people have.” Here’s more from the East divisions.
- Veteran outfielder Michael Bourn is open to returning to the Orioles in 2017, although he says he says his mind is currently on the team’s playoff chase, Rich Dubroff of CSNmidatlantic.com writes. “I’ll keep that in the cards, no doubt. I like the organization, good team to be a part of,” Bourn says. Nonetheless, he adds, “We’re in the pennant race right now. By now, that’s my main focus.” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said yesterday (again via Dubroff) that he’d like to keep Bourn and that Bourn was “more than a fourth outfielder.” Next year, Bourn will no longer be receiving checks from the four-year, $48MM contract he signed with the Indians prior to the 2013 season. That deal has mostly been a disaster, but Bourn has been effective down the stretch in Baltimore, batting .275/.333/.450 in 47 plate appearances heading into today, when he’s had a single and two walks.
- Yankees slugger Aaron Judge made 95 plate appearances in his first taste of big-league action and batted .179/.263/.345 before hitting the DL with an oblique strain. Now, he’s looking forward to 2017, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch writes. “It’s the same thing as last year; I got a little taste of Triple-A and got used to it, and same thing here,” says Judge. “I got a couple games up here and saw what it’s like. It’ll help me prepare coming in here, not in the unknown.” Judge says he expects to have to compete for a starting role in the big leagues next year. Manager Joe Girardi sensibly points out that Judge needs to work on hitting for contact — Judge struck out 42 times in his short stay in the Majors this year. As Judge implies, though, he struggled in his first stint in Triple-A last year, only to bat .270/.366/.489 with 20 homers there this year. Perhaps he can improve the second time around against big-league pitching as well.