What do you guys make of Latos recent dominance?
His last 2 starts: 18 IP, 6 hits, 2 ER's, 2 BB's, 20 K's.
It is worth pointing out, though, that of the 6 hits he has allowed, 4 went for extra bases (2 2B's, 1 3B, 1 HR). Compare that to some other recent dominant performances, like say, Felix's 5 hit, 1 BB, 13 K shutout of Boston or MadBum's 1 hitter, where the 6 combined hits allowed in the two gems were singles.
It's like even when Latos is dominant, he still manages to get hit hard. Which is to say, if a couple ground balls find holes in the infield, a few softly hit fly balls drop, then all of a sudden that gorgeous line is a right bloody mess. My first inclination is to think that perhaps Latos has been okay if not solid, but extremely lucky. Of course this argument can be made on seemingly every play in baseball and thus perhaps I'm not giving Latos nearly the credit he deserves.
Surely, sometimes there is a fine line between a gem and a clunker, with nothing but sheer luck determining one's eventual fate. In fact we know this to be true, and this season's poster boy for bad luck, a man for whom every soft grounder finds a hole and every broken bat blooper lands safely between 3 converging fielders, is none other than Cliff Lee. Meanwhile, some guy named Phillip Humber found it within himself one spring day to achieve the Holy Grail of pitching and toss the ever elusive perfect game. A question, though? Did he pitch better that day than, say, Felix or MadBum in the gems mentioned above? Did he pitch better than R.A. Dickey did during his two consecutive 1 hitters? Hell, did he pitch better than Cliff Lee did on April 18th in SF when he scattered 6 singles and a double over 10 shutout innings? Who knows. Probably not. But Phillip Humber is now cemented in baseball lore, his name eternally tied to some of the all time greats. One day in April of 2012, everything just went his way, and so paved the way for his entrance to that elusive club. Those others guys, they're infinitely better pitchers, and have probably pitched dozens of better games amongst them than Humber's game in April. But only Humber has ever been perfect. Ain't that some $h!t? My point? I don't know, it's late, I'm drunk. I'm tired. Oh yeah, maybe I'm being too hard on Latos when I suggest his impressive 18 inning stretch is not nearly as impressive as it at first appears. Yeah, that's right. But still, I can't seem to let go of the notion that... An, to hell with it, it's a badass 18 inning stretch. Period.
And of course, none of that excessively long, potentially nonsensical, and unnecessarily verbose tangent I just went on is to say I'm complaining about Latos' recent run. I'm not. While I didn't get to enjoy the fruits of his Milwaukee start; I did pick him up for a spot start tonight and he rewarded me with likely the best spot start of my fantasy career. I'm merely pointing out that looking a bit beyond the surface stats takes just a bit of the luster off of Latos' last two magnificent turns. At least for me. But like I said, it's still been a pretty rad run.
Furthermore, the pessimist in me must necessarily point out that it's only 2 games, and important to note that they were preceded by a complete meltdown against Cleveland, in which Latos allowed 8 hits and 7 runs over 4 innings of work. Of those 8 hits, 7 went for extra bases: 3 2B's, 1 3B, 3 HR's. Yikes.
But then, going back further still, we see that meltdown was preceded by a very solid outing against that same Cleveland lineup: a 7 IP, 7 hit, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K performance in which only 1 of the seven hits, a 2B, went for extra bases.
Well, perhaps his home road splits can explain that discrepancy:
Home: 9 GS, 59.2 IP, 3.47 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 49 K's, 15 BB's. .235 BAA, and a 5-1 record. Yes, those are some very useful fantasy
Road: 6 GS, 29.0 IP, 7.45 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, 34 K's, 13 BB's, .306 BAA, and a 1-1 record. Yuck. And FWIW, tonights' gem is not accounted for here, and while it would certainly make the numbers look better, they would nonetheless remain completely unpalatable. Lucky for me I didn't check out these splits prior to choosing Mat as my spot starter--they'd almost certainly have scared me away, AT&T Park be damned.
Now, 1 stat I didn't mention in his season splits: the long ball. Latos has allowed 17 HR's already in 16 games (including tonights). He's allowed just 16 HR's in 31 games each of the past 2 seasons. Further, he's been far more prone to the long ball at home, giving up 12 in 9 home games, 1.3 per game, against just 5 in now 7 road games, 0.71 per game. This is a huge problem, and given as I haven't watched him pitch, I've no explanation for it. Let's hope Fangraphs is onto something with xFIP, and his HR rate will normalize to the league average, or better yet, his career average.
Bottom line: I don't have a friggin' clue what to make of Latos this season. Do you? I was all set to drop him after the spot start and find someone else to stream, but for now I'm going to hold until some people much smarter than I come in here and tell what to make of this bizarre season he's having; in particular: his recent run of dominance (including the seemingly larger than normal number of extra base hits that have accompanied said dominance, something that I'm probably obsessing about far too much); his insane home/road splits (perhaps I'm wrong, but isn't Cincinnati generally more hitter-friendly?); and his alarming and just recently discovered propensity to give up the long ball. Cool. Talk to me smart guys...