Cincinnati Reds in Review: SP Mat Latos


Currently, Mat Latos is the crowning jewel of the Walt Jocketty era. Frisked away in the night, the Cincinnati Reds got themselves an ace in exchange for what has amounted to a whole bunch of average personnel.

But is Latos’ time with Cincinnati running short? With a massive payday on the horizon, the Reds will have to choose: Latos, or someone else?

Mat Latos – Starting Pitcher

Statistically, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more consistent pitcher over the past five seasons than Mat Latos. Although he is yet to even make so much as an All-Star appearance, he is staring down the barrel of $150+ million contract next winter.

Latos came to the Reds before 2012 with a whole lot of pressure on his shoulders, expected to be an ace alongside Johnny Cueto. The Redlegs gave up what appeared to be a starting catcher, first baseman and closer, plus Edinson Volquez just to acquire his services. After a shaky first April 2012, Latos has been dynamite.

Preceding the 2014 season, injuries struck. It was the theme of the Reds season, so when Latos had to wait over two months before he would make his Major League debut; the pressure was really dialed up. It’s unlikely that Latos was ever completely healthy at any point throughout the season, especially when combining looking at his numbers and seeing the way his fastball didn’t quite have the same mustard its used to having.

With all the discussion of the Redlegs “all-in” strategy ahead of 2015, Latos may be the key to that equation. As brilliantly as he has pitched for Cincinnati, they acquired him. On the other hand, Johnny Cueto is the organizational grown golden child. If it came down to which of the two the team would extend a massive offer towards, logic tells us the organization would go with Cueto. That’s not to say Latos won’t get paid; it just may mean it won’t be by Cincinnati.

We could all sit here and pretend that scenario isn’t at the forefront of our minds, but it’s reality that barring Mr. Castellini pulling a winning Ohio Lottery ticket, this is the last season the Reds will boast both Cueto and Latos in the rotation at the same time. While it seems like one has always been injured and the other healthy, they have undoubtedly formed the most dominant 1-2 combo of starting pitchers the Reds have seen in quite some time.

Latos’ Stat Line:

5-5, 3.25 ERA, 102.1 IP, 74 K, 3.65 FIP, 1.15 WHIP, .240 OAV, 0.9 WAR

Top Mat Latos Moment:

In Latos’ first start back, there was a considerable amount of anticipation. He had fought for weeks to get called up to the big leagues sooner, rather than continue his rehab assignment down in the minors. Making his first start on June 14 against the Brewers in Milwaukee, Latos would toss his only game on the year in which he would not allow a run.

Over the course of six innings, he would allow just two hits as he struck out four and was dominant from there on out. With it being his first start back, he was limited to 87 pitches and a no decision.

While he would go on to be successful throughout the remainder of the season, he was never quite as good as he was during his first start back.

Low Point of the Season for Mat Latos:

With his season already delayed nearly two and a half months by elbow and knee injuries, Latos was also robbed of most of his final month of the season by nagging issues.

In his last three starts, Latos would allow at least one home run in each, while allowing four earned runs or more in two of them. His start in Baltimore on September was his worst of the season, allowing five earned runs and 10 hits in just five innings of work.

Having suffered setbacks, the club decided it would shut Latos down for the season with nothing but pride to be played for. The thinking was that Latos could return 100 percent for Spring Training come 2015, but in the moment, the 2014 season was a struggle for Latos.

Final Grade: B-

Even though a lot of the media has made a big deal of the drop in his velocity, what goes unnoticed is the development of his slider. Once just a complimentary pitch, it now may be the single biggest weapon in his arsenal.

If Latos can get himself all healed up and ready to go for 2015, it’s incredibly beneficial to both parties. Whether the Reds decide to deal him at the Trade Deadline after a dominant first half, or they go “all-in” and keep him all season long, Latos is going to get a whole boatload of cash if he stays injury-free. And what better icing on the cake than a 2015 World Series ring?