Chris Colabello Suspended 80 Games for PEDs

It all started out so innocently. In a pair of tweets, Ben Nicholson Smith announced that the Blue Jays have called up sidearming lefty reliever Chad Girodo from Buffalo, and that Chris Colabello was not on the roster.

This made it seem like the Jays had either optioned the struggling Colabello for Girodo or that he had perhaps gone on the disabled list. He was, after all, hit in the head only a few games ago. Neither would have been surprising, and nobody would have argued that last year’s breakout star could use some time away from the big league roster.

That all changed when Mike Petriello of dropped this bomb:

Chris Colabello is an interesting case. Given regular playing time for the first time in his career, Colabello wrecked the American League in 2015. He put up a slash line of .321/.367/.520, which was good for a TAv of .304. Everybody expected some regression, as nobody can sustain a .411 BABIP, but the power seemed real enough (15 HRs in 360 PAs), and he did hit a lot of line drives.

Well…maybe the power wasn’t so “real” after all. It’s amazing that players still take PEDs with testing so rampant and with the penalties becoming ever harsher, but it seems that every year a player or two gets caught (or if you’re Jenrry Mejia, you get caught three times in two years). This time, it’s Chris Colabello.

Despite Colabello’s struggles to start the season, this is an absolutely shocking announcement and a big blow to the Blue Jays lineup. Not only have they lost Colabello for the next 80 games, but should they qualify for the postseason, Colabello won’t be eligible to participate due to a rules change from a couple of years ago.

This is also a huge blow to Colabello’s chances of ever establishing himself as a major leaguer, as there were already doubts about the legitimacy of his offensive skills. I’m not assuming it, but it honestly would not be shocking if the Jays release him upon the completion of his suspension, especially if they find first base/DH production from another source. If so, it’s a sad end to a tale that had captured the hearts of so many Colabelievers – people who latched onto the story of the career independent ball player as a true underdog success story.

Colabello issued the following statement about his suspension:

The first instinct is to believe Colabello, as he was just so likable and easy to root for, but the athlete who admits to steroid use is rare and the substance for which Colabello tested positive is not exactly on the ‘it was in my energy drink’ list:

That’s hardcore “I need to get huge to win Olympic weight-lifting” stuff. Colabello isn’t exactly the biggest guy, which works in his favour, but there are a lot of small guys that get busted for steroids as well. That being said, nobody but Colabello (and maybe not even him) knows exactly what actually happened, so I’m certainly not going to pretend that I do. And in the end, it’s a moot point. Whether he did or did not take steroids intentionally, Chris Colabello is done for the next half season, and the Blue Jays will have to soldier on without him.

As for how this affects the roster, in the short term it means Toronto is rolling with just Justin Smoak at first base. Smoak has had one of the weirdest starts to the season imaginable with a .222/.481/.278 slash line, as he has put just five balls in play in 27 plate appearances. He had a decent season last year, but the Jays could really use a caddy to hit against left-handed pitchers (like Jesus Montero, perhaps) going forward.

As for Girodo, he is a former ninth round pick for the Blue Jays out of Mississippi State University (2013), and has dominated minor leaguers in his short time in the Toronto organization. He has put up a 2.47 ERA in 167.1 innings with a K/9 of 9.1 and a BB/9 of 1.9. So far this year he has thrown 6.2 innings across four games for the Bisons with a 1.35 ERA, seven strikeouts and 2 walks. He throws from a low 3/4s angle and possesses a mid/high 80s fastball and a big, sweeping slider. He has been a full/multi-inning pitcher in the minors, but expect John Gibbons to use Girodo mostly as a LOOGY.

The move also leaves the Jays with eight relievers and just three bench players (including Josh Thole). Going with another reliever, and a lefty one at that, seems like an odd decision given the presence of both Pat Venditte and Brett Cecil on the active roster; one would have assumed the Jays would summon one of their bats from the minor leagues like Montero, Andy Burns, or Domonic Brown to fill the gap left by the suspended Colabello. That being said, Venditte threw 31 pitches on Thursday and Cecil launched 24, so it’s possible that one or both of the Blue Jays southpaws are unavailable and a corresponding move will be made Saturday.

Either way, this is not the type of news the Blue Jays wanted today, and a reasonably stressful time in Blue Jays land just got a lot worse.

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2 comments on “Chris Colabello Suspended 80 Games for PEDs”

Joshua Howsam

I’d say that sums things up rather nicely.

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