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Colon never shy about going after strike zone

MLB.com @mlbbowman

PHILADELPHIA -- As Braves catcher Tyler Flowers sat behind the plate for Bartolo Colon's start against the Phillies on Friday night, he certainly wasn't reminded of any of those days when he was with the White Sox serving as Chris Sale's batterymate.

Per Statcast™, among the 73 Major League pitchers who have thrown at least 5,000 pitches since the start of the 2015 season, Sale ranks fifth with a 14.32 missed swing-and-miss rate. Colon ranks last as opponents have missed with only 6.76 percent of the swings they have taken against him within this span.

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PHILADELPHIA -- As Braves catcher Tyler Flowers sat behind the plate for Bartolo Colon's start against the Phillies on Friday night, he certainly wasn't reminded of any of those days when he was with the White Sox serving as Chris Sale's batterymate.

Per Statcast™, among the 73 Major League pitchers who have thrown at least 5,000 pitches since the start of the 2015 season, Sale ranks fifth with a 14.32 missed swing-and-miss rate. Colon ranks last as opponents have missed with only 6.76 percent of the swings they have taken against him within this span.

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"To me [Colon] is streaky," Flowers said. "He'll go through a couple innings just painting, and then the next [inning], he'll paint on here and then go middle, middle. Then the next inning, he'll just go back to painting. Obviously, it's fastball heavy. But he does change the action with it quite a bit. He'll throw some that cut, some that have a big run and some that sink and some straight ones. When he has command and starts manipulating [the hitters] a little bit, it makes for some interesting swings."

Among the 96 pitchers who have thrown at least 2,500 pitches since the start of the 2016 season, Colon has produced an 88.23 fastball percentage. The only member of this group with a greater percentage is Tyler Chatwood, who has thrown his fastball 90.06 percent of the time within this span.

Colon has been at his best when he has produced a fastball percentage more than 85 percent this year. When the 43-year-old hurler limited the Mets to two hits over six innings April 5, his fastball accounted for 90 percent of his 80 pitches. When he limited the Padres to two baserunners over seven innings last Sunday, he used his fastball with 87.06 percent of his pitches.

As Colon was battered by the Marlins for six runs over four innings on April 11, he attempted to make adjustments and ended up using his fastball 74.67 percent of the time, while generating a 2.67 swing-and-miss rate -- his fifth-lowest percentage since the start of the 2015 season.

It looked like Colon might be approaching a similar outing as the Phillies didn't miss any of their first 18 swings Friday, and ended up missing with just five of 53 swings. This 4.95 percent swing-and-miss rate ranks as the veteran hurler's 11th-lowest total in the past three seasons.

To his credit, Colon thwarted a couple scoring threats and ended up limiting the Phillies to four runs, despite allowing 11 hits over seven innings. This marked just the 14th time in his career that he allowed at least 11 hits in a game, but just the sixth time he surrendered this total while also allowing four runs or less.

"He can scatter some hits, but he has that ability to make pitches, and he keeps pitching," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He never shies away from the strike zone, and he can get out of trouble. He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Bartolo Colon