By Matt Citak
Bartolo Colon continues to amaze.
On Sunday night, the pitcher that never seems to age came close to making history.
Colon, who turns 45-years-old next month, took a perfect game into the eighth inning against the World Series champion Houston Astros. A leadoff walk to Carlos Correa and a double by Josh Riddick ended the bid by the veteran pitcher, who would have become the oldest pitcher in MLB history to throw a no-hitter (Nolan Ryan currently holds that record, with his final no-hitter coming at the age of 44 years, 90 days).
Not only did Colon flirt with a perfect game, but he also looked like the absolutely dominant pitcher that led Major League Baseball in wins back in 2005.
Of the first 17 batters he faced, Colon brought 10 of them to an 0-2 count, proceeding to strike six of them out. When he entered his final inning of the night, the veteran had thrown only 83 pitches with 59 of them going for strikes.
The inning did not end as Colon would have hoped, as the starting pitcher was removed from the game after 7.2 innings, having allowed one run on one hit and one walk. Although he fell a bit short of making history, Colon still put together an unbelievable performance, one right on-par with opposing starting pitcher and ace Justin Verlander.
Despite being the oldest player in all of baseball (in fact, Colon was born before six current managers), the hefty pitcher has already proven that there is still plenty of gas left in the tank.
Having now appeared in four games for the Texas Rangers this season, Colon has given up just three earned runs in 18.2 innings, earning himself a 1.45 ERA. The 44-year-old has surrendered only one run in each of his two starts, both of which he pitched at least six innings.
In addition to providing Texas with some needed starting pitching depth, Colon has also served as a valuable piece in the bullpen. In two relief appearances spanning five innings, the veteran allowed just one run on three hits.
In his 18.2 innings on the year, Colon has allowed a total of 11 hits and two walks while striking out an impressive 17 batters.
While Colon has pitched incredibly thus far, his spot in Texas’ rotation is nowhere near permanent. The veteran is currently taking the injured right-hander Doug Fister’s spot in the rotation, as Fister recovers from a strained right hip. Colon will get at least one more start this Saturday, but is likely to move back to the bullpen when Fister is ready to return.
Colon will continue to serve as a fan favorite around all of Major League Baseball, as evidenced by his start Sunday night. After being removed with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Colon walked off the mound to a standing ovation from the Astros home crowd. The beefy right-hander nicknamed “Big Sexy” remains one of the most popular players in baseball, and his success at such an old age only adds to his popularity.
Colon’s playing time (and more importantly his roster spot) will depend on whether or not the veteran can pitch consistently throughout the season. With Colon signed to a minor league contract, his spot on the team could come into question if the 44-year-old faces an extended rough stretch at some point.
But if the first few weeks of the year are any indication, then we should see a healthy dose of “Big Sexy” over the next six months.
Matt Citak is a contributor for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter.