Still, the Mets’ rotation boasts baseball’s third-best starters’ ERA at 3.54, and the club is within one game of the second National League Wild Card spot. And a lot of that has to do with Bartolo Colon, a guy who started the season in the bullpen. The 43-year-old righty showed why on Monday at Great American Ball Park, pitching six scoreless innings in a 5-0 win over the Reds, lowering his ERA to 3.22.

“He’s been the mainstay,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “He’s the guy that every fifth day takes the baseball. We don’t have to worry about pitch counts, we don’t have to worry about innings, he just goes out there and does it. He’s had two starts where our bullpen was tired and we needed him to get deep in the game, and you looked up and he was in the eighth inning. He’s been a tremendous addition to the staff.”

Once again, Colon’s start came when his team needed it the most. The Mets didn’t arrive in Cincinnati until 4 a.m. ET after a Sunday night game against the Nationals that didn’t end until after 11 p.m. While Colon was sent to Cincinnati early to prepare for the start, the rest of the team was running on coffee and fumes come Monday, and many regulars got the day off.

“I never had any pressure at all,” Colon said. “I knew coming in some of the veterans were going to have an off-day most likely, so I just moved forward and it worked out.”

Colon even pitched through a slight injury on his pitching hand. He said it felt like something was poking him occasionally and that it wasn’t a blister. He handled it so well, Collins didn’t even know anything was wrong with him after the game.

The entire day wasn’t smooth sailing for Colon, either. He ran into trouble in the third inning, giving up two leadoff hits to put men on second and third with no outs, but he struck out opposing pitcher Robert Stephenson and induced a lineout and a flyout to end the inning.

In the sixth, Colon gave up a leadoff triple, but he got three flyouts to escape without giving up a run. By escaping, Colon was able to extend his streak of starts with six or more innings to four, and he lowered his ERA since Aug. 4 to 2.25.

“I looked at [bench coach Dick Scott] and I said, ‘Well, they might get one, but they’re not going to get two here,'” Collins said. “He just makes pitches and you look at some of the counts, he had 3-2 counts on some guys, but made a pitch he has to make. He’s fun to watch. If you don’t learn stuff by watching him pitch, you’ve wasted your time here.”

Cody Pace is a reporter for based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Source: Mets News / Surprising vet Colon anchoring Mets’ rotation