Alex Colome was one of the few pleasant stories for the Rays in 2016 following his sudden induction into the closer's role after Brad Boxberger suffered an abdominal injury in spring training. The 27-year-old impressively notched 37 saves in 40 chances, successfully converting 21 consecutive save chances to begin the campaign. Colome's body of work firmly entrenched Boxberger in a setup role upon his eventual return, and the same pecking order will apply entering next spring. Colome posted elite metrics in the categories of K/9 (11.3) and K/BB (4.73), while regularly firing a mid-90s fastball. Control was certainly another strong point, as the right-hander generated a solid 2.4 BB/9 and 1.02 WHIP. His upside may only be capped by the Rays' inability to frequently enter the late innings with leads to protect, but even a modest improvement overall could vault Colome into the elite 45-plus save range in 2017.
Colome worked around a walk and struck out one in a scoreless ninth Tuesday against the Orioles, recording his fifth save. After suffering a blown save off an unearned run Sunday, Colome bounced right back with a solid outing, and he still has a spotless ERA with just five hits and two walks over 10 innings. If you own him, you should continue enjoying his services as one of the league's better closers.
Colome was charged with his first blown save of the season in Sunday's 6-4 loss to the Astros, giving up one run (unearned) on two hits, a walk and a passed ball over two innings. Colome was brought on in the eighth for a rare two-inning save opportunity, and he worked around a bunt single and walk to escape the frame unscathed. However, a single, a passed ball and an Evan Gattis sacrifice fly allowed the Astros to forge a 4-4 tie. The run was the first he's allowed all season, and he also issued his first free pass of 2017. Despite the disappointing outcome, he's been of the best ninth-inning options in baseball, as Colome owns four saves with an unblemished ERA and 0.67 WHIP.
Colome allowed one hit during a scoreless ninth inning to collect his fourth save of the season Saturday against Houston. The Tampa Bay closer hasn't allowed a run through seven innings, and after recording 37 saves with a 1.91 ERA last year, he should have a long leash in the ninth inning. It's also likely that Colome begins to show an uptick in the strikeout column -- just four punchouts this year -- after posting an 11.28 K/9 in 2015.
Colome fired a scoreless inning in Tuesday's 5-1 win over the Tigers and recorded a strikeout. With only 1.2 innings of work across two appearances over the previous 10 days, manager Kevin Cash opted to get Colome some game action in a non-save scenario Tuesday. The closer impressively set down Miguel Cabrera on a swinging strikeout before inducing a groundout and liner from Victor Martinez and Andrew Romine, respectively, to close out the win. The 28-year-old right-hander has yet to allow a run over six trips to the mound this season while also notching three saves in as many opportunities.
Colome credits his cutter as one of the primary reasons for his success as a closer over the last few years, Bill Chastain of MLB.com reports. In July 2015, a struggling Colome was booted from the Rays' starting rotation to the bullpen, a move that would initiate a makeover of the hard-throwing right-hander's career. The 28-year-old posted an 0.29 ERA over 21 relief appearances over a two-month period late that season and then became the closer at the beginning of 2016 after Brad Boxberger began the season on the disabled list. He's never looked back, and a pared-down arsenal that now mainly consists of a fastball and cutter has been key to his success. Colome actually shows a preference for the latter, which was taught to him by roving pitching instructor Dick Bosman. The Rays closer has used the pitch 44 percent of the time since the beginning of last season and has the fourth-lowest BAA in the majors over that span when his cutter has been put in play. Colome has also notched a majors-best 25 percent swinging strike rate when deploying it, helping him quickly rise in stature as one of the most effective ninth-inning options in baseball. "Maybe our confidence has grown for good reason, because he's been so successful," manager Kevin Cash said. "Every time he's out, it's a pretty calming effect on the dugout and the players that are playing out there. He's just got a tremendous demeanor."
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