Entering spring training in 2015 Alex Colome was expected to be the front runner for the fifth starter gig for the Tampa Bay Rays. However, things got off on rocky ground when he was delayed coming to the States due to visa issues. Then once he arrived in the country he was hospitalized with pneumonia.
Colome’s delay was part of the reason the Rays entered the season with only two of their projected rotation ready for Opening Day, which necessitated the trade for Erasmo Ramirez.
Despite being out of options Colome wasn’t able to make his debut until May 1. He spent the next two months in the rotation. He made 13 starts totaling 69.0 innings of 4.70 ERA and 4.64 FIP baseball. He wasn’t picking up very many strikeouts, 15.0%, and was walking an average number of batters, 8.2%.
After his July 1 start, he transitioned to the bullpen and took off. He appeared in 30 games as a reliever picking up 40.2 innings. Colome put up a 2.66 ERA and 1.71 FIP. His strikeout rate surged to 27.0% and his walk rate plummeted to 4.3%. Earlier attempts to break into the Rays roster as a reliever had been unsuccessful, but this time Colome figured it out.
After ending the 2015 season as a dominating force out of bullpen Colome found himself in competition for high leverage innings following the trade of Jake McGee.
Incumbent closer Brad Boxberger went down with an oblique injury in Spring Training, and injury that would plague him all year, and the door opened for Colome to pick up some ninth inning work.
Colome would see action in 57 games and threw 56.2 innings with a 1.91 ERA and 2.92 FIP. Those numbers were good enough for a 47 ERA- and 70 FIP-. He upped his strikeout rate to 31.4% while allowing a few more walks at a 6.6% rate. Colome earned his first call to the summer classic as the Rays lone representative in the All-Star Game.
In total, Colome picked up 37 saves while only blowing 3. He only allowed a run in 6 of 57 games he appeared in. Colome’s 89.5% no-run rate was better than Andrew Miller (82.9%) and Aroldis Chapman (83.1%).
If you’d like to learn more about what makes Colome great, in January I talked about Colome’s breaking ball. It is one of the best pitches in the league that he is able to make more use of out of the bullpen. It is a truly dominant pitch.
The Rays bullpen is a work in progress, but starting it with a guy like Alex Colome is a good position to be in. The list of guys I would trust in high leverage situations over Colome in all of baseball is a short list.
Due to the small sample size that is typical of reliever,s the outcomes season to season can be highly variable. ZiPS has Colome picking up 33 saves in 65 innings with 2.93 ERA and 3.18 FIP behind a 10.71 K/9 and 2.49 BB/9. Steamer has Colome picking up 27 saves of 65 innings with 3.33 ERA and 3.46 FIP behind a 9.13 K/9 and 2.71 BB/9. PECOTA’s 50th percentile project has Colome compiling 30 saves with a 3.52 ERA and 4.07 DRA in 58.3 innings while posting a 9.73 K/9 and 3.08 BB/9.
Alex Colome will play a big role in how the season plays out, as he should receive a bulk of the high leverage work. If he has another great season the bullpen starts out with a great hammer to close out games.