Do you feel he’s the ace of the Reds’ staff? Do you think he’s improved each season of his MLB career? And, most importantly, do you believe he’s one of the top pitchers in the NL?
I’ll tell you throughout this column my complete thoughts on Latos, and my answer to the rest of the above questions are yes, yes and yes.
This season, Latos has a 14-5 record in 29 starts, with a 3.02 ERA. In 191 innings, the current Reds ace has allowed 64 earned runs (12 home runs) and has walked 51 batters.
His strikeout total is up to 175, averaging 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings with a WHIP of 1.199 and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.43, as he’s won at least 14 games in three of his four seasons as a full-time starting pitcher.
Watching most of his starts this season, what I’ve noticed with the 25-year old is his ability to make pitches and battle when he doesn’t have his best stuff. This was the case in his last start on Sept. 7 against the Los Angeles Dodgers where he went seven innings, but allowed nine hits and three runs, though he did work his way out of a couple jams in the early innings.
Entering his start Friday (he’ll pitch at the Milwaukee Brewers), Latos is 14th in the NL in strikeouts, ninth in ERA, eighth in innings pitched and 20th in WHIP (1.20).
Stats aside, Latos has been the pitcher that has stepped up and became an ace for the first time in his career when Johnny Cueto went on the disabled list twice this season. Nobody on the Reds pitching staff has been as consistent from the start of the season to present like Latos.
Latos might not have the best overall “stuff” on his team, as I believe that is Homer Bailey, but Latos has the one thing all pitchers need to be successful, and that is consistency.
If the Reds didn’t have a “Mat Latos” on their team this season, with the injuries to Cueto, do you really think they would be fighting for another NL Central Division title or even hold the second Wild Card spot?
I don’t believe they would, as when the Reds have really needed a “big-time” start from a pitcher this season, Latos has been the one who has stepped up and done his job on the mound.
Though he has just one complete game this season, which came in a game with the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 2 where the Reds defeated the Cardinals, Latos out-pitched 15-game winner Adam Wainwright by allowing just four hits and two runs in nine innings.
That is just one example of Latos “stepping up” when his team needed him against not only against a division rival, but a team they are battling in a three-team race for the division championship or home field advantage in the Wild Card playoff.
The Reds aren’t the same team without Latos on the mound, and if his durability and his “bulldog mentality” to step up for his team hasn’t made him one of the best pitchers in the NL, then I don’t know what will. If Latos isn’t on the Reds … I don’t see them in the postseason in 2013.