Trading for Mat Latos was a very, very good move for the Cincinnati Reds. The price was very high but, as I noted back in December when the trade went down, there is a very good chance none of the prospects shipped San Diego’s way ever become as good as Latos has already been at the big league level. It is the delicate balance of trading kids.
There was some concern about Latos’ ability to adjust to life outside of San Diego’s vast Petco Park, concerns fuelled by early season struggles with the long ball. As Jay Jaffe points out at his new Hit and Run page, Latos has actually been better at home in the Great American Ballpark compared to the road parks of the National League.
Hmm. Funny how that works.
Mat Latos took the mound in his return to San Diego last night, facing his former team and three of the four players he was traded for. Edinson Volquez took the mound for the Friars in what ended up being a terrific pitching duel, won by the Pads in the most exciting walkoff fashion.
Not for any lack of effort by Mat Latos, who was reeeeediculous. The hard-throwing righty tossed seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits and two walks en route to eight strikeouts. He coaxed 12 swinging strikes and 10 ground balls. He was in control all night, getting away with a few misplaced pitches because, well, he was facing the Padres.
Refusing to be upstaged by the return of prodigal douche, Edinson Volquez was great in his own right, allowing one run but striking out 10 Reds with 23 swinging strikes! A great night for pitching all around as both starters posted game scores greater than 70 (which is very good.)
While concerns about Latos adjusting to a new ballpark are fair, this season is shaping up very much like last year in one way: a slow start gives way to second half dominance.
A high strand rate masked a rough May for Latos, who posted a FIP over 5.00 and a xFIP over 4.00, just as a very low strand rate make his June results worse than his 3.62/3.03 FIP/xFIP suggest. Last year, Latos shaved his ERA down to 2.84 in the second half, limiting walks and keeping the ball in the yard.
With the Reds locked in a division title race with the surprising Pirates and underachieving Cardinals, they certainly hope last night is a glimpse of what is to come from the co-ace for whom they paid so dearly.
AND THE REST
In addition to Mat Latos showing up in San Diego, Bill Walton made an appearance in the booth! Joining Dick Enberg and Tony Gwynn (!!!), who is still awesome and a cancer survivor to boot. It’s an NBC sports reunion in the booth! Somebody exhume the corpse of John Tesh!
Yu Darvish and David Freese are your Twitter All Stars. [Gaetink Blunjed]
The Mets staged quite the comeback over the Phillies and high-priced closer and universal target of scorn Jonathan Papelbon. There was much rejoicing in Metropolis. [Amazin' Avenue]
At least Phillies fans can rest easy knowing Ryan Howard returns tonight! The rejoicing shoe is on the other foot now, suckers! [Crashburn Alley]
Ryan Howard returns to the Phillies tonight. It’s like throwing a life jacket to a starving man.
— Brian K (@PunkOnDeck) July 6, 2012
Was Carl Crawford the victim of a racial slur during a rehab assignment last night in New Hampshire? His post-game quote is telling on many, many levels [NESN]
“[That guy] actually called me a racial slur to begin the game with,” Crawford said when asked about the noticeably critical fan. “He was the only one I had a problem with. People in Boston don’t even do that so I don’t even know what that was about.”
Interesting stuff on how Andrew Friedman and the Rays continue to spin yarn into relative amounts of gold. [Baseball Prospectus]
Baseball America unveiled their midseason Top 50 prospect rankings. Dylan Bundy, y’all. [Baracus]
David Ortiz gets fat off the cheese [Baseball Analytics]
Francisco Cordero is not as bad as you need him to be. [DJF]
Sam Miller the Best, no BABIP luck needed. [BP]
Mark Trumbo – not just home runs and heavy metal.