Corey Seager! Just had to get that out of the way. Did you catch Mat Latos‘ postgame comments last night? If you didn’t, here you go:
Mat Latos was upset #Dodgers Mattingly has him on "quick leash:" "Tough to find my rhythm .. by the time I do that, I'm out of the game"
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) September 4, 2015
Latos: "I kind of settled in, put up two zeros up on the board, found my release point. By the time I do that, I’m already out of the game."
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) September 4, 2015
Now, I could do a Chad-style takedown of Latos — trust me, it’d be kinda fun — but I’m going to go a different direction.
Look, Latos hasn’t been good with the Dodgers. His numbers are trending the wrong direction. His FIP is still pretty good at 3.66, but he’s missing fewer bats, giving up more home runs per fly balls (partially due to an increased ground ball rate) and he’s just too hittable right now (.313 batting average against, compared to .246 with the Marlins).
He does have a point. It is hard to get into a rhythm when the quick hook is there. The best way to avoid said quick hook is to not pitch terribly early on. And this isn’t anything new with Latos while with the Dodgers. He went six innings in his first start with them. That was good. Since, he has pitched four innings twice and 4 2/3 innings twice. He isn’t getting the quick hook because he’s pitching well. Don Mattingly does a pretty decent job with knowing when to lift a starter, and he’s been right every time with Latos. It also isn’t terribly intelligent to criticize the manager in the media, but that’s what Latos did. He doesn’t seem like a guy who would shy away from that, either, so it shouldn’t be surprising.
The Dodgers are 2-3 in Latos’ starts which isn’t good. There are questions as to whether Mike Bolsinger is a better option. He’s starting tonight, and he very well might be the better choice. Latos has never appeared out of the bullpen in his professional career — 300 appearances, 300 starts. While it might not be the best course of action to make Latos a long reliever, he isn’t pitching well enough to stick in the rotation — quick hooks or no.
I wasn’t terribly Gung ho about his acquisition (before the Braves’ part of the trade came in), but I thought Latos could hang in the NL West (again).
“Normally, I’d be pretty stoked about acquiring a 27-year-old pitcher with past success for the rotation, but Latos feels a little underwhelming. Perhaps I just wasn’t aware of what he was doing this season. He hasn’t been great, but he has been solid. This is also how you save yourself from having Mike Bolsinger, a still-recovering Brandon Beachy or Carlos Frias from start a playoff game.
Latos was a really good pitcher in San Diego before he was traded to Cincinnati (in a deal for Yasmani Grandal, executed by Josh Byrnes, coincidentally) where he was a 200-plus inning pitcher in two of his three seasons (was hurt last year) and has been kinda “meh” on the whole this season. He owns a 4.48 ERA, but he’s out-pitching that with a quite nice 3.34 FIP. He’s more of a fly ball pitcher, which plays pretty well in the NL West.”
Aside from that subtle and unjustified (in hindsight) dig at Bolsinger, everything checks out. With Mattingly considering a change in the rotation, Bolsinger could be the one to benefit.
Latos is a free agent after the season. Some team will pay him $10-12 million per season for three or four years, and that team won’t likely be the Dodgers (even before these comments). It’s too bad because Latos has been really good in the past, but he’s been on a decline. There’s absolutely a chance he could regain his old form, but if it happens, it’ll probably be somewhere else.