Mat Latos’ Baseball Card Says Best Days Ahead

Mat Latos got rocked, again, which means it’s time to talk about the trade with San Diego and expand upon how the Reds gave up too much for someone with a 5.20 ERA.

At least that’s what the majority of fans are talking about now on the message boards.

Look, I don’t mean to absolve Latos from the rough outings he’s had – I care about quality starts, and if that is the very least a pitcher can give his team, I’m satisfied. Mat Latos hasn’t had too many of those – only five in 14 starts. Just 36% of his starts have been quality. Even more startling, he’s only averaging 5.7 innings per start, which means the bullpen typically gets its work on nights when he’s pitching. Sure, you can point to his overall 5-2 record, but it is worth noting that Latos sports the highest average run support on the team, typically getting at least five runs behind him whenever he pitches.

The negatives are glaring – fans immediately want to revisit the trade in which the Reds sent four guys for a number 2 starter who is giving up five runs in nearly every outing.

So the main question is – what gives with this guy? A few things from the stat book may help shed some light on the situation.

First, Mat Latos does not fair well against lefties.

RH hit .212 against Mat.
LH hit .319.

Career numbers aren’t much different. RH hit .209 against him while LH hit .257. The difference here is huge. When you see a lineup like Cleveland that employs anywhere from 6-7 left hand swingers at any time, it’s not that hard to see why Latos was rocked; however, it is a little confusing when you consider the fact that just last week Latos went seven innings and only allowed two runs against this same Indians team.

His pitch efficiency does bother me. But when looking back at his time in San Diego, the numbers tell a story all too familiar. Last year, Latos failed to make it past six innings on eight different occasions – or, roughly 25% of his starts were mighty short. The part that’s really worth noting – seven those stats came in April, May and June. He made it past six innings every start after June, with the exception of one 5 inning outing in July.

Another interesting stat – the opponents batting average against Mat, in his short career by the month:

April: .277
May: .207
June .271

Pretty consistent thus far, no? Check out later in the season.

July: .197
August: .211
Sept/Oct: .259.

All of the evidence above suggest Mat’s best days are ahead. Let’s hope so – the aftermath of the Hamilton trade still haunts fans, especially considering Edinson Volquez‘s 3.70 ERA.

But don’t be fooled. PETCO is a pitcher’s sanctuary. If you dig a little deeper, you’ll notice the 21 more walks Volquez has over Latos. Also, for a guy with an ERA of nearly two runs lower than Latos’, Volquez sports a WHIP of 1.39 – Latos sitting at 1.406.

Walt Jocketty knew who he was getting. The Reds used their prospects to secure the most coveted talent in baseball – top of the rotation pitching. Mat Latos has it. According to the back of his baseball card, it just takes longer for his numbers to reflect it.