Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mat Latos has mixed results in first spring outing

Mat Latos
The pitching line for Mat Latos in his first spring outing looks ugly: seven earned runs on 11 hits over 4.2 innings.

That said, the White Sox right-hander's performance wasn't without positives. He allowed only two of those seven runs through the first four innings. His fastball was clocked between 89 and 92 mph, about where it should be, and he threw a couple of sharp curveballs to record two of his four strikeouts. He also declared his troublesome left knee to be healthy after the outing.

But that fifth inning didn't go so well. He gave up two home runs and quickly turned a 3-2 lead into a 7-3 deficit (although the Sox would rally to win, 8-7). Latos noted that he gave up "a couple cheap hits" and allowed himself to become frustrated on the mound.

"I didn’t expect it to be a complete explosion, that was embarrassing," Latos told CSN Chicago's Dan Hayes. "But I’m healthy, the knee feels good. Like I said, first inning through fourth inning shows how I really feel. Just again, a dumb move by me. A blonde moment, if you will, just getting out of what I wanted to accomplish and that’s not the game plan. We don’t want to get aggravated when we’re out there. Stick to the game plan. If it’s not broke don’t fix it. I kind of let it to get me and that was a dumb, selfish mistake and we’ll progress there."

Another potential explanation for the horrible inning: Latos isn't strong enough yet to pitch deep into games. That theory was offered by manager Robin Ventura.

“I thought the first few [innings] he was crisp,” Ventura said in Hayes' report. “He looked good. He was down [in the zone]. After that, there could be a couple things in there -- fatigue, could be getting him out here for the first time. I think it’s just getting him back out here and getting him stretched out and getting him stronger. Encouraged by the start of it just how crisp he was.”

We'll get more answers as we see more of Latos in the final two weeks of spring. If he looks like the guy he was in the first four innings Tuesday as he pitches deeper into games, then he's going to help the Sox this year. Time will tell whether this fifth-inning implosion is any cause for concern.

And if you are concerned about Latos, consider this: Jeff Samardzija, the guy Latos is replacing in the Sox rotation, has an 8.53 ERA with the San Francisco Giants this spring. Samardzija has given up five home runs in 18 spring innings with San Francisco. Sound familiar? Again, I'll take my chances with Latos on a one-year deal worth $3 million over the $90 million over five years the Giants gave Samardzija.

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