Mat Latos Makes First Start Of Spring Training
The Marlins decided that their rotation wasn’t good enough to compete without Jose Fernandez. They also felt their pitching prospects weren’t ready to handle major league hitting. The combination of those attitudes led to the acquisitions of Mat Latos and Dan Haren. Both will need to step up, as the team’s hopes could shatter if the pitching staff proves to be a weakness.
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The 6’6 tattooed teddy-bear has certainly been a consistently good pitcher over his 6 year career, but injuries held him back in 2014. It’s no secret that his velocity declined, and in an interview with Ken Rosenthal, he even hinted that he was rushed back from his knee injury. It’s fair to say the Marlins are betting on a bounce back from Latos in 2015, and that’s certainly what it will take to avoid another losing season in Miami.
Latos missed his first start of the spring, because Mike Redmond felt it necessary to ease him in with a simulated start against his teammates and minor leaguers. Yesterday, Latos finally pitched in a Marlins uniform, against the St. Louis Cardinals. Overall, his start was just dandy, he tossed 3 scoreless innings and had a pair of strikeouts (one was botched by a Salty misfire down to 1st base).
Seeing Latos pitch was a relief, he looked good and had plenty of movement on his pitches. The strikeouts are going to be key this season, in hopes to cover up some potentially shoddy infield defense.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Morse, and Dee Gordon, and even Hechavarria all have their scary moments when attempting routine plays. Latos’ K/9 rate when from 3 straight years of an even 8, to a 6.5 in 2014, and he will need that to climb back up if he’s going to pitch his way into a big contract after 2015.
Either way, boom or bust, a solid outing from Latos in march proved to be comforting. If he can stay healthy, it’s reasonably safe to assume that we’ll be seeing more of the same from Latos as a Marlin, even if that means he’ll surely be pitching elsewhere after next season. The Marlins newest gamble is one out of many, just one of the dominoes that could decide if these Fish sink or swim.