Bartolo Colon Shines in First Start Since 2009, but Can He Continue?

Mike GurnisContributor IApril 21, 2011

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 20:  Bartolo Colon #40 of the New York Yankees throws a pitch during their game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on April 20, 2011 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

This past offseason, when Cliff Lee turned down the Yankees' offer for the Phillies and Andy Pettitte retired, the Yankees were left with very few options to fill their rotation.

Brian Cashman received a lot of heat, as he was forced to make several low-risk, high-reward signings. He had to sign Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, who many had thought to be done in his career.

Colon had looked sharp in a few appearances out of the bullpen so far this season and on Wednesday night, due to Phil Hughes' "dead arm," Colon got to do something that he hasn't done since 2009: Start a major league game.

Sure enough, Colon did not disappoint, as he pitched 6.2 innings of two-run, five-hit ball and struck out seven batters in a 6-2 Yankees win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

It was Colon's first win in nearly 23 months.

This great pitching performance should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed Colon with the Yankees this year, though.

Colon had an extremely impressive spring and many people were surprised when Joe Girardi made the decision to give the fifth starter spot to Freddy Garcia over Colon, although Colon had clearly had a much better spring.

Girardi's reasoning, he said, was that Colon had pitched in winter ball this year, therefore was much further ahead of other pitchers in spring raining.

That may have been the case, but through Colon's first three appearances out of the bullpen and his one start this year, he has been proving that spring training was not just some fluke.

Colon's velocity on his fastball is constantly between 92-94 mph and his "stuff" has been good enough to strike out 20 batters this season. 

He's pitched 18 innings this season and has struck out 20 batters. Impressive huh?

There's no doubt that the 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner is throwing the ball as well as he ever has right now, and if he keeps pitching this way, Brian Cashman may have gotten the steal of the offseason.

But that is a very big IF.

To put things into perspective here, Colon has not pitched a full season in the major leagues since 2005. He's been hit with a lot of injuries, so it's definitely a huge question mark as to whether Colon can stay healthy for the whole season.

Second, as mentioned earlier in the article, Colon pitched in the Winter Leagues this year. Therefore, it definitely has to be a concern that the 37-year-old Colon may not have enough steam to get through the whole season. 

He's essentially been pitching since November, so you have to wonder if all the innings will be too much for Colon's arm at some point this season. He threw 37 innings in seven starts for Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League.

So there are certainly question marks around Colon, as to whether he can stay healthy and be able to pitch for a whole season. 

But for now, Yankee fans can enjoy watching Colon pitch and it will be interesting to see if he can continue to regain his 2005 form.