Mat Latos (Getty Images)
This year, for the third time in as many seasons, Mat Latos is off to a lousy start. He was hammered by the Cardinals last Wednesday, emerging with an April ERA of 8.22. Last April, he delivered an ERA of 4.98. The April before, 6.20.
Just so there's no misunderstanding here, I'm not about to claim that the 24-year-old Latos is doomed to repeat his opening month struggles forever. That seems unlikely. I'm simply highlighting the fact that we've been down this same path before, with this pitcher. And in the end, his numbers have been solid. Latos has a career 1.18 WHIP, a 3.54 ERA, and a K/9 of 8.6. Those ratios will work for fantasy purposes.
Latos wasn't some miracle of Petco Park during his time with San Diego, either. Check the home/road splits. Opposing batters have hit .229/.287/.348 against him in Petco, and they've hit .228/.291/.358 in all road games. Latos has been a quality pitcher in all environments, a fact that gave us hope for 2012 as he moved to Cincinnati.
But here we are. Latos is scuffling and fantasy owners are asking the usual questions: Bench him? Trade him? Buy him? Dump him, before Dusty breaks the kid? Latos has ranked among the most-dropped pitchers in Yahoo! leagues every day since the massacre at St. Louis, so it's clear that many of you have seen enough.
However, the week ahead offers a pair of friendly match-ups for the right-hander, as the Reds host the Giants and Astros. Please try to show some patience. Keep Latos in your plans. He has an excellent opportunity to un-do last week's damage. Velocity hasn't been an issue for Latos so far — his average fastball was 92.8 mph in 2011, 93.0 this season — and it's not as if he struggled in the spring (3.70 ERA, 1.15 WHIP). I'd start him if I had him, and I'd make an offer if he appeared on someone's trade block.
Mark Buehrle — at NYM (Dickey), ARI (TBD)
Mat Latos — SF (Cain), HOU (Harrell)
Matt Garza — STL (Garcia), at PHI (Kendrick)
Jaime Garcia — at CHC (Garza), MIL (Greinke)
Approval granted only under special circumstances, on a case-by-case basis
James McDonald — COL (Moyer), at ATL (Jurrjens)
Jair Jurrjens — at LAD (Capuano), PIT (McDonald)
Kyle Kendrick — at ARI (Miley), CHC (Garza)
Clayton Richard — WAS (Zimmermann), at SF (Cain)
Jamie Moyer — at PIT (McDonald), NYM (Dickey)
Lucas Harrell — at MIL (Greinke), at CIN (Latos)
All the cool kids are doin' it
Jon Lester — at MIN (Marquis), at CWS (Peavy)
David Price — LAA (Santana), at TEX (Holland)
Derek Holland — NYY (Kuroda), TB (Price)
All the cool kids were doin' it in 2005, and now they're doin' it again. Of course the cool kids were also doin' capri pants in 2005
Jake Peavy — at OAK (Colon), BOS (Lester)
Bartolo Colon — CWS (Peavy), at BAL (Hunter)
The cool kids probably aren't doin' it, but that doesn't mean it can't work
Brandon Morrow — at KC (Chen), SEA (Millwood)
Josh Beckett — at MIN (Swarzark), at CWS (Floyd)
Jonathan Sanchez — at CLE (Lowe), at MIN (Marquis)
Jason Vargas — at DET (Scherzer), at TOR (Alvarez)
Henderson Alvarez — at BAL (Hunter), SEA (Vargas)
Ervin Santana — at TB (Price), at CLE (Lowe)
Hiroki Kuroda — at TEX (Holland), DET (Scherzer)
Gavin Floyd — at OAK (Milone), BOS (Beckett)
Bruce Chen — TOR (Morrow), at MIN (Liriano)
Max Scherzer — SEA (Vargas), at NYY (Kuroda)
No kids, cool or uncool, are doin' it
Derek Lowe — KC (Sanchez), LAA (Santana)
Jason Marquis — BOS (Lester), KC (Sanchez)
Tommy Hunter — TOR (Alvarez), OAK (Colon)
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