Latos Shines Again

The Padres won their 35th game of the season this afternoon and pulled within a half game of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West Division lead. A big part of their success this season has been young starter Mat Latos, and Latos had another fantastic start today, striking out eight batters and only allowing two runs in the 4-2 victory.

Latos didn’t induce quite as many whiffs as he normally does in this start. In 97 pitches today, Latos drew seven swinging strikes. That 7.2% mark is 2.7 points below his mark for the season. Latos made up for it by spotting his pitches excellently, particularly on his strikeout pitches. Take a look at this pitch location graph from Brooks Baseball.

Click to enlarge

The black squares denote strikeout pitches. Latos “painted the black” on four of the eight strikeouts, and was towards the edge of the zone on two more. His location was excellent, which likely allowed him to keep eight of the nine balls hit in the air in the park. He did allow his 9th home run of the season, but the Padres offense was able to scrape together enough runs to win the game, despite four double plays.

The slider has been the big out pitch for Latos this season, with a +8.3 pitch type value and nearly +3 per 100 thrown, a fantastic mark. It was excellent once again, as he drew four swinging strikes and had a pitch type value of +1.3 with only 34 sliders thrown.

Latos entered this start with a 3.89 FIP, 3.79 xFIP, and 3.07 tERA, slightly outperforming his CHONE and ZiPS projections entering the year. Given his stuff – a 92-95 fastball and the hard slider – its unsurprising that the 22 year old has taken a step forward this season. ZiPS still projects him at a roughly 4.00 FIP, but in PETCO Park there’s a good chance that Latos can maintain the sub-3.50 ERA he brought into today’s game. The Padres have to love what they’ve seen from him so far this year, and he figures to be a big part of any potential playoff run this season.

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8 Responses to “Latos Shines Again”

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  1. sdp says:

    As Chip Caray would say, the Mets are “Latos intolerant.”

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  2. maestro876 says:

    He’s taken huge strides this season. He’s not relying nearly as much on his fastball, and is controlling his secondary stuff much better. He’s an ace in the making.

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  3. DJH says:

    He’s showing signs of becoming a top of the rotation starter, at age 22 1/2.

    Since May 1st he’s thrown 52 innings, allowing just 29 hits and 14 walks and 12 runs, and a batting average against of close to .160 after today. Furthermore his mental approach has grown, and he’s become more of a thinking pitcher instead a hard thrower.

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  4. Drakos says:

    The problem with Latos being a big part of the Padres playoff push is that the organization has talked about putting him on a playoff/start limit that (if he stays healthy) he will probably reach before the end of the season. This didn’t look like an issue before the season when no one thought the team would be in contention. Now, it’s going to be a major disappointment if they have to sit him down the stretch.

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    • maestro876 says:

      This is the concern. They’ve talked about skipping his spot in the rotation here and there to extend his season, but it hasn’t happened yet.

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  5. treyAAA says:

    I was watching when Blanco hit the HR in the 2nd. He clearly struck out on an 0-2 curve/slider on the corner. I hate it when an umpire’s error causes a change to the score. His line should have been even better!

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  6. CircleChange11 says:

    Everybody talks about giving good young pitchers a rest, until they’re in the playoff chase.

    I’ll believe the talk when I see the corresponding action.

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  7. Tempo says:

    Throwing way too many sliders. He will be hurt in September.

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