Sunday, April 8, 2012

Latos' Rough Start is No Reason to Worry





I've seen quite a bit of panic in and around the Redleg universe after last night's game. Most of which was thrown in the direction of Mat Latos.

Latos pitched 4 2/3 innings striking out four, walking two and giving up four runs. Many who called this trade a bad move from the start are using this opportunity to pounce, saying the prospects and depth we gave up weren't worth it. But to be honest, the situation Latos was in last night was one of the toughest ones a young pitcher could possibly be in, for numerous reasons.

The Marlins had only scored one run in their first two games, and that one was unearned at that. If you believe in things such a team being “due”, the Marlins were just that. Ramirez hadn't had a hit yet and got his first with a two run blast off of Sam LeCure. And a team with Giancarlo Stanton, Hanley Ramirez and last year's NL batting champion Jose Reyes, isn't going to be held back for long.

Latos' first start also came on opening night, a mere two days after he witnessed the craziest Opening Day city in the majors in full swing. That atmosphere is not only intimidating for opposing teams, but also for new Reds players, especially ones already under pressure when they hear of the high expectations the club's fans have. Latos is extremely talented, no doubt but also young. And he's only had the chance of working one spring with the man behind the plate tonight; the talented, but also inexperienced catcher Devin Mesoraco. Latos has also been known to be a slow starter, taking a few games to get into the groove of the season and has shown to finish strong.

Add all of this together and I don't know how any expected Latos to pitch a complete game. Numerous Reds journalists and radio personalities expected him to struggle tonight, but all of them know he'll only get better.

So while some of you are up in arms and ready to demand the Padres send back the four players we traded for Latos' services, don't be so quick to come down hard. He's only pitched two full seasons in the majors and both seasons have been very promising. Not only does he have nasty stuff and the potential to be one of the elite pitchers in baseball, but he can also fill another role the Reds desperately need: The 200 Inning Workhorse. In 2010 he pitched 184 innings, in '11 he went 193. Over both of those seasons, he's averaged an ERA of 3.20, a WHIP of 1.133, struck out 374 batters and only given up 32 home runs in 62 starts, or half a home run per game. I can already hear some of you saying “Wait a second! Great American is no Petco!”, but allow me to interject: If you take the distance of all of the hits he gave up in Petco last year and adjust them for Great American, he still only gives up 15 dingers or around one homer per game.

So sit tight, as long as Latos can stay healthy he's going to do some great things this season.

And here's a fun fact: The Reds are undefeated against the Astros in Opening Day games, two of the three of which took place on April 8th. In fact the Reds have played five Opening Day games on April 8th and have never lost. In 1963 they beat the Pirates 5-2, in 1976 they walloped the Astros 11-5, in 1981 they managed to edge out the Phillies 3-2, in '85 they beat the Expos 4-1 and in 1991 they beat the Astros 6-2.

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