The first season for Mat Latos in Cincinnati was by all means a successful one.
The right-hander was as good as advertised last season en route to posting a 14-4 record and 3.48 ERA in a career-high 33 starts. There were initial concerns on how Latos would handle the transition from pitching in spacious PETCO Park to the hitter's paradise known as Great American Ball Park. Those concerns turned out to be rather meaningless as Latos actually posted a lower ERA at home (3.18) than he did on the road (3.93).
However, he did surrender 18 of his 25 homers at Great American Ball Park. Hey, what do you expect from a guy who many consider to be power pitcher? Nonetheless, he still lived up to most of the high expectations set for him, which is incredible considering the vast amount of pressure he faced once the Reds unloaded a plethora of talent to the Padres for his services.
Fans will be expecting even more out of the Florida native when he takes the ball every five days in 2013. The 25-year-old will be entering his fifth big league season in addition to having had a full year to acclimate himself to his new franchise. The Reds will rely on Latos to anchor Johnny Cueto at the top of the rotation, and if recent history is any indication, he should be able to satisfy that duty just fine.
Here are some 2013 projections for Latos:
As you can see, there isn't a lot of variation here. Most folks expect Latos to post similar numbers as he did in 2012. That means about 15 wins with an ERA between 3.30 and 3.50. If he can stay healthy and tally those kinds of numbers, I think the Reds are going to be sitting pretty when October rolls around. But don't be surprised if Latos exceeds expectations and winds up threatening to win the Cy Young Award.
Fun fact: Latos signed a two-year, $11.5 million contract last week that will pay him $4.25M in 2013 and $7.25M in 2014.