SAN DIEGO — Atlanta Braves right-hander Bartolo Colon gets the start Wednesday against the San Diego Padres. Maybe it is as much for his bat as his right arm.
Colon, 44, returns to Petco Park, where he hit his lone home run in 290 at-bats. It came off then-Padres pitcher James Shields, when Colon turned on a cut fastball on May 7, 2016.
“Next question, man,” a cranky Shields famously said when asked to explain his emotions about Colon’s surprising blast.
The Braves, 3-0 winners in the series opener Tuesday, are hoping for a blast from the past as Colon (2-7, 7.78 ERA) pitches for the first time since June 5. His work has been dreadful, as he has surrendered at least six runs in five of his 12 starts.
His last time out was a mess. He gave up eight runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings in a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. After that stinker, Colon went on the disabled list with a strained oblique.
“We’re going to break him out,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He threw a bullpen on Sunday and everything was good, so we just wanted to make sure after the off day to see how he was feeling. It’s all a go for (Wednesday).”
How long Colon can go is the question. The Braves hope he can recapture his form and possibly be a piece to move at the trading deadline.
Snitker wasn’t looking into the future. He is not even sure if Colon will remain in the rotation. Everyone associated with the Braves is anxious to see what, if anything, Colon has to offer.
“I’m just going to play it by ear,” Snitker said. “In this series everyone will get one start, then we have another off day, and then we will re-evaluate it.”
In his only previous start against San Diego this season, Colon allowed just one hit and one run over seven innings to pick up a win on April 16.
San Diego will counter with right-hander Luis Perdomo (2-4, 4.56 ERA). He was solid, albeit wild, in his last start. He notched his second win after tossing six shutout innings against the Detroit Tigers, though he walked five batters.
Padres manager Andy Green said a more precise Perdomo has the ability to get deep into games.
“We’re trying to push him to be a No. 2 starter because it’s within him,” Green said. “He’s not there yet.”
Perdomo, a Rule 5 draft pick who made the team last year, is clearly making strides.
“I think he is throwing his fastball to more quadrants of the strike zone, which is big for his development,” Green said. “The best pitchers don’t just pitch to one-third of the strike zone, and he was doing that for the longest time as he found a way to tread water at the major league level. That was effectively what he did.”
San Diego is confident Perdomo can do more than just get by, especially with his secondary pitches showing growth.
“I think his slider is better than it was last year and the change has moments where it flashes at a plus level,” Green said. “For him to get through that order the third time, you can’t pitch everyone the same way as the first two times or they are really sitting on you.”
Atlanta will face Perdomo for the first time. The Braves have won four consecutive series, and they have a lineup that is a task to navigate, but Green thinks Perdomo has the goods.
“He has shown the variety which is necessary for 95 percent of big league pitchers,” Green said. “There are maybe 5 percent that play by different rules; he’s not in that 5 percent. So the variety he has shown has enabled him to get through the order more consistently.”
Many once thought Colon, who is 4-3 with a 3.69 ERA in eight career starts against the Padres, would get through his career minus a home run. But the next question, with apologies to Shields, is if Colon has anything left, man.