SAN DIEGO -- Looking to get a rise out of Alex Colome? If you're a big league batter, you might as well look someplace else.And, no, this is not an indictment on Colome's relationship with the Rays' hitters. He gets along with them just fine.Rather, it's a compliment on Colome's
SAN DIEGO -- Looking to get a rise out of Alex Colome? If you're a big league batter, you might as well look someplace else.
And, no, this is not an indictment on Colome's relationship with the Rays' hitters. He gets along with them just fine.
Rather, it's a compliment on Colome's ability to prevent the competition from lifting his pitches. Among all relievers with at least 60 innings since the start of 2015, Colome has allowed the fewest extra-base hits: eight. That's four fewer than the flamethrowing Aroldis Chapman and seven fewer than all-world stopper Wade Davis.
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The list goes on, and because of stats and peers like that, Colome will participate in Major League Baseball's 87th All-Star Game presented by MasterCard in San Diego tonight. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX.
"It is nice to represent my team, the Tampa Bay Rays, at the All-Star Game," Colome said. "Everybody wants to make the team. When they tell me I am going, I felt excited."
Make no mistake, Colome's road to All-Star recognition has had its bumps. A little more than a year ago, he wasn't even relieving. Instead, Colome was battling inconsistent results out of Tampa Bay's rotation -- posting a solid 3.56 ERA overall, but with quality starts on just five of 19 occasions.
Since moving to the bullpen full-time on July 7, 2015, Colome has compiled a 2.23 ERA with a 10.3 K/9 rate -- nearly double his 5.7 K/9 mark before the shift.
The 27-year-old has taken his game to even greater heights in 2016, with a 1.69 ERA and 19 saves in 19 tries. The latter stat represents a club record for successful opportunities to open a campaign and the longest run by a Tampa Bay reliever since Fernando Rodney converted 22 consecutive saves from May 27-Aug. 13, 2012.
"I like relieving," Colome said. "… So much adrenaline. When they changed me from starting to reliever, it was not too easy. But I put it in my mind that I have to do it."
Colome, of course, didn't expect to be a closer this year, but he made the most of an opportunity that arose out of unfortunate circumstances -- an injury to teammate and expected stopper Brad Boxberger.
The American League's saves leader in 2015, Boxberger opened this season on the disabled list after undergoing core muscle surgery in March. Upon making his 2016 debut on May 31, he immediately sustained an oblique injury that landed him back on the sidelines.
"I was surprised [to become a closer], you know," Colome said. "But when God has something for you, nobody take it."
And, boy, has Colome handled the adjustment with aplomb.
"[Colome is] as calm as any closer I've seen throughout the course of the year handling situations," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "There's been some situations this year [where] he put himself into jams, there's some where we didn't help him … and nothing seems to alter him on the mound. He's continued to go out and execute pitches and have really good results."
Zachary Finkelstein is a fantasy editor for MLB.com.