Oct 6, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) pitches the ball against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of game one of the 2012 NLDS at AT

Johnny Cueto or Mat Latos? Who Should Be the Opening Day Starter?

Aug. 29, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mat Latos against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Apparently, according to the MLB Preview Player Rankings, the Cincinnati Reds should be starting Mat Latos on Opening Day. They have Latos penciled in as the best starter on the Reds squad. They actually have him ranked No. 8 in National League pitchers with ace Johnny Cueto right behind him in ninth place. Latos is rated No. 32 overall in NL players, while Cueto is just behind at No. 35. Cueto is valued at $16, while Latos is $17.

What do they know that we don’t? Cueto had a WAR of 5.8 last season while Latos was at 4.2. Cueto actually led the NL pitchers in ERA+ with 152 and his career mark is 117. Latos’ ERA+ in 2012 was 122 and for his career it is at 112.

To scrutinize the MLB rankings even farther, Cueto is the fifth most valued Red as he is looking up to fourth-ranked Latos.

Here are their career comparisons. Since Cueto has pitched one year longer than Latos, let us use their career averages over 162 games. WAR is just an average per year.


WAR 2.7 * 2.2
ERA+ 117 * 112
BAA .252 .227 *
K/W 3.47 * 3.01
BAPIP .290 .276 *
WHIP 1.261 1.156 *
W/L 14-10 * 13-11

* = Better statistic of the two.
Statistics extracted from Baseball-Reference.com.

As you can see by the above table that they are very close statistically. To declare a winner of the two would depend on which statistic or metric you trust the most.

Maybe the Reds do indeed have two Aces. Tell me what you think.

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Tags: Johnny Cueto Mat Latos

  • http://twitter.com/JordanBarhorst Jordan Barhorst

    I think we’re pretty fortunate. Truth be told, either one of these guys could start opening day.

    Cueto has that extra “oomph” though. I love Latos, and he’s quickly becoming one of my favorite players (he’s extra fun to use in MLB: The Show for PS3), but perhaps the most telling example of why Cueto is our true number one is the NLDS. Cueto goes down and Latos becomes our “leader” as far as the rotation goes. We all know what happens next.

    It’s easy to say that I think Cueto wins game 5 in Cincinnati, but the point is unfortunately now moot. To put the whole thing in perspective, Latos didn’t come close to sniffing Cy Young award status in ’12, but Cueto was considered a snub when it came to the consideration for top 3.

    • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

      Hey Jordan,

      That is a great reply right there. The CYA race did not feature Latos in the top 9. Chapman was rated 8th in the CY race. It is great to have them both in the rotation though, no question about that. Thanks my friend.

  • Kerry Moss

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but those player rankings are based on Fantasy… Latos is more valuable on your fantasy squad because he strikes out more hitters than Cueto does. That doesn’t mean he is a better pitcher in real life, just for fantasy teams.

    • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

      They probably are for fantasy, however I am sure someone has based them on something besides their strikeout rate. They have people I never heard of on there.Your theory doesn’t hold up. Verlander is ranked #1 among pitchers with a 9.0 K/9 rate. Kershaw is #2 at 9.1/9 and Strasburg is #3 at 11.1/9. They are all three ranked backwards using your theory. Thanks for the comments my friend.

      • Kerry Moss

        Fantasy rankings aren’t based soley on K rate. Sure, someone like Verlander can be ranked higher than other pitchers with higher K rates, because he does many OTHER things better than those pitchers. Walk rate, home runs allowed, the team the pitcher plays for, etc… These thing all can affect a fantasy ranking. My point was that, in this specific case, Latos is a better fantasy option than Cueto because he strikes out CONSIDERABLY more hitters than Cueto and all other things are pretty equal.

        So, my “theory,” not only holds up, it’s a fact.

        • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

          Not trying to upset you my good man. The fact is that Cueto had a lower walk rate, lower HR rate and they both play for the same squad. Thanks

  • Josh Bresser

    I think Latos is a better pitcher, but because of Cueto’s ERA and wins total last season, he’ll start opening day for the Reds. If I was going to give it to the better pitcher, though, it’d probably be Latos.

    • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

      Very interesting. So Josh, are you saying that in a game for all of the marbles you would start Mat?

  • beeker

    I would say that the Reds do have two aces in Cueto and Latos. But for Opening Day, I’d go with Cueto. Until Latos shows himself otherwise, we have to consider him too prone to a slow start to the season. Granted he was adjusting to a smaller park, but it was mid-May before he really got going last year.

    • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

      That is true, he came out of the gate a little late making many Reds fans wondering if we gave up too much to get him. I guess he showed everybody. Thanks friend.

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