By Ray Glier
It was just cool here tonight at The Ted.
Not the weather, which finally felt like fall. The Atlanta starting pitcher. He was cool.
Josh Collmenter, pulled off the scrap heap by the Braves in August, gave up one run with that signature overhand, over the top delivery of his. It was old fashioned and here is the cool part: his fastball sat at 88-89 miles an hour. He could throw up in the zone because the Phillies had trouble seeing the ball with this delivery. He twirled, as they used to say with different pitches and not the gas. We are accustomed to 93-96.
Collmenter pitched seven innings and gave up one run in Atlanta’s 5-2 victory. Only this cussed match-up baseball of lefty on lefty, righty on righty deprived him of chance to win.
Collmenter was 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in three starts with the Braves. He is 30 years old. His contract expires after this season, but the Braves control his rights and could bring him back.
There are all kinds of things to discuss with this guy. Collmenter’s story is way cooler than just throwing 89 mph. He learned that over-the-top motion throwing tomahawks in the woods in Michigan. How about that? When the Braves were pouring runs on the Phillies the fans here at Turner Field did the familiar “Chop” in the stands. The Chop has been around here 25 years and it might not be politically correct, but it’s not going anywhwere.
Like, I said. Collmenter would fit right in. He could have his own billboard, except for the politics of it.
“Pretty ironic isn’t it, I end up here?” Collmenter said. “My friends all talk to me about that; of all places for me to end up, Atlanta.”
Collmenter was the Diamondbacks’ Opening Day starter in 2015. He had some shoulder stiffness, lost his spot in the rotation, and was banished to the bullpen. It was a quick fall from grace for a guy who has pitched in the playoffs before and pitched well. The D-backs did not give up on him completely, though, and brought him back in 2016. Collmenter had a 5.69 ERA in 15 appearances and Arizona cut him loose on August 7….prematurely.
The Braves, whose starting pitching this season has been weak, signed him and just handed the right-hander the ball. Considering Atlanta’s trouble on the bump why not give Collmenter a chance next season? The Braves’ heralded arms are either not ready (some of them) or not good enough (some of them). Collmenter would be more than a bridge to the future in the new Atlanta ballpark, he could be a solid guy again in a National League rotation.
“The ball’s in their court,” Collmenter said when I asked about 2017.
One more cool thing. That over-hand motion keeps the stress off his elbow. I looked. He does not have the familiar Tommy John smiley face scar on the inside of his elbow like so many other pitchers. One more reason for the Braves to hold on to him.