Colon's eventual move to 'pen not a sure thing

Colon's eventual move to 'pen not a sure thing

NEW YORK -- As the Mets' season unfolded, the expectation was that when Zack Wheeler is finally ready to return to the rotation, Bartolo Colon will ultimately move to the bullpen. But Colon is making that decision more difficult.

The 43-year-old Colon continues to pitch well as a starter, so even when Wheeler has completed his recovery from 2015 Tommy John surgery -- the Mets are eyeing a post-All-Star-break return -- it's not certain that Colon will be immediately relegated to a relief role.

"When that time comes, when Zack Wheeler's ready to be a Major League pitcher again, there'll be a pretty hefty discussion of what's going to be best for us," manager Terry Collins said before Saturday's game against the Braves at Citi Field.

The reason for that is Colon's performance.

"You'd better believe it," Collins said. "He's pitched absolutely great."

Colon has made 13 starts this season. He is 6-3 with a 3.01 ERA, and his 80 2/3 innings pitched are second on the team, behind Noah Syndergaard's 85.

Collins is not sure how the Mets will proceed when Wheeler comes back, since his return isn't imminent. They could, for example, go to a six-man rotation. That could help ease Wheeler back into Major League action and reduce the burden on Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, both of whom had heavy workloads last season.

"I can't tell you, because we're not even close. I don't know what it's going to look like," Collins said. "We've been [saying] since Spring Training that when Zack gets here, is it the time when we want to add a guy to the rotation anyway, to give guys some time off? Because the days off are going to be a little bit fewer in the second half. Right now I can't answer where we'd go."

Colon pitched out of the bullpen in the 2015 postseason, when the Mets went to a four-man rotation with Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard and Steven Matz. In 8 2/3 innings over seven relief appearances, Colon posted a 2.08 ERA.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.