Alexander Colomé said he wasn’t surprised when his name was called for the fourth straight night on Tuesday, when the veteran reliever was summoned to pick up his third save in as many nights.
But whether he was surprised or not, the the act itself was surprising. Colomé had done it once in his career, back in June 2016 while with the Tampa Bay Rays, but that type of usage has become exceedingly rare in Major League Baseball.
“Alex’s catch play (Tuesday) was phenomenal,” pitching coach Wes Johnson said. “The ball was jumping out of his hands. He looked at me and said, ‘Wes, I want the ball. I feel great.’ And then after seeing the catch play, you have confidence in putting him out there.”
The Twins have had plenty of confidence in Colomé lately.
After a rocky start to the season, the veteran reliever has had success since sliding back into the closing role. He did so right after the trade deadline when the Twins shipped Hansel Robles to Boston. Days earlier, fellow reliever Taylor Rogers suffered sprain to his middle finger from which he still hasn’t returned.
Since Aug. 1, Colomé leads Major League Baseball with 12 saves, a 180 from the beginning of the season. In the month of April, Colome posted an 8.31 earned-run average, blowing three saves and suffering three losses in nine appearances. Eventually, he was taken out of leverage situations entirely, sending him on a months-long journey to regain the trust needed to be put in those spots again.
“It was just every day, ‘Hey, Alex, don’t forget how good you are. You’ve done this for a long time. You’re really good. Your pitches are really good. We’ve just got to get back to the conviction and the intent,’ ” Johnson said. “The biggest thing you’ll see on his location maps lately is that the ball’s been down. That’s led to a lot of success. He’s feeling good. His confidence is extremely high right now.”
The biggest difference, Colomé believes, has been his usage. Twice, he had three days of rest in between games. Once it was four games, once it was five. Too long, he said.
“Back then, I used to spend five, six, seven days between outings and that’s really difficult to do, especially for myself because I’m used to going out there often, like I am now and you can see the results right now,” Colomé said. “I’m going out there often, I’m hot and I’m doing my job because I’m pitching often rather than how everything was happening in April.”
After four straight scoreless outings, Colomé’s ERA has dipped below four, sitting at 3.95.
At season’s end, the Twins and Colomé will have a decision. When he signed a one-year deal last offseason, it included a mutual option for 2022.
Would Colomé like to return?
“I would like to come back. I have a good relationship with my teammates. I have a good relationship and communications with the coaching staff,” he said. “I like it here. But at the same time, that is a business decision (and) the team will have to decide that. I’m just going to keep my mind clear in the offseason and be ready for whatever might happen. But that’s their decision, not mine.”