Before we know it, it will be September. That means crunch time for the race to playoffs will be upon us before you know. But that does not mean that games in August are not just as, if not more important.
This afternoon as Mat Latos took the mound for the Cincinnati Reds against the Arizona Diamondbacks, that was the case. The Diamondbacks are chasing the Reds for the Wild Card, and Latos needed to eat some innings for Cincinnati. Despite being sick, the starter did just that for the Reds as he continued his recent dominance and overall success.
Latos went eight innings for the Reds while earning the victory and extending their lead over Arizona to seven games. On the season, the right hander is 13-4 ERA with a 2.93 ERA, but he has been even better in his last ten starts.
With today’s victory, Latos is 6-3 with a 2.74 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 65 innings. Over his last four starts, the 25 year old is 3-1 in 30.1 innings with his shortest start being seven innings. Latos gave up only three runs in that stretch while striking out 24 batters and allowing just 27 baserunners.
Leading the American League with 39 saves does not guarantee that Jim Johnson will be closing games for the Baltimore Orioles as the season draws to a close. Last season, Johnson came out of nowhere to save 51 games, and there were mixed feelings about how successful his follow up season would be.
Now this season, Johnson does have 39 saves, but he also has seven losses and has blown nine saves. And recently, it seems like some blown saves have come in bunches for the Orioles closer leading manager Buck Showalter to look elsewhere when Baltimore has a ninth inning lead.
Johnson will still get save opportunities, but it will now be dependent on matchups and recent performance. As a temporary solution, that works, but for the long term going into the playoffs, Baltimore needs Johnson to step up and take the job back. Going with a closer by committee is hard at any point in the season, but even more so in the playoffs.