San Diego Padres pitcher Mat Latos(notes) has impressed managers around the majors over the last two months, but the young left-hander hasn’t done much to distinguish himself to anyone in the Florida Marlins dugout.
Latos looks to continue his recent dominance Saturday in Miami, where the Padres finish a three-game series against the Marlins, who have had no problems solving the 22-year-old.
Latos (8-4, 2.93 ERA) has come on strong for San Diego (44-30) this season, and he’s been especially effective lately. He held Tampa Bay to three hits while striking out eight in seven scoreless innings of a 2-1 road win Tuesday, getting the attention of Rays manager Joe Maddon.
“I want to check his birth certificate. I don’t think he’s 22,” Maddon said. “He’s one of the better young pitchers I’ve seen. He has an incredible feel for what he’s doing.”
Maddon isn’t the only manager that’s had to acknowledge Latos’ success lately. Since the start of May, Latos is 7-2 with a 1.92 ERA in 10 starts. He has allowed more than two runs in a game just once in that stretch.
“It’s not the first time I’ve had somebody ask for my birth certificate,” Latos said. “I’m thankful that things have been going my way here as of late and I’m just trying to improve and get better as the year progresses.”
A strong outing against Florida (35-39) could help prove just how far Latos has come. He had his worst outing of the season April 26 against the Marlins, getting tagged for seven runs and lasting only 2 2-3 innings in a 10-1 road defeat. He was only marginally better in his first game against Florida, allowing five runs in 3 1-3 innings of a 6-4 defeat Aug. 30.
The Marlins, though, haven’t shown much offensive punch in the first two games of this series. They fell 3-0 in Friday’s opener and 2-1 on Saturday night, dropping to 1-3 under interim manager Edwin Rodriguez, who formally interviewed for the permanent job earlier in the day.
“You have to find a way to score runs,” Rodriguez said. “One run in 18 innings isn’t going to produce too many wins in this league.”
The NL West-leading Padres have won four of five on this six-game road trip in Florida heading into the finale, with three of those wins coming by one run.
“That’s what they do,” Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson(notes) told the Padres’ official website. “That’s why they have the record that they do and are one of the best teams right now. They have good pitching, and they manufacture runs, do whatever it takes to get runs.”
Anibal Sanchez(notes) (7-4, 3.30) will take the mound for the Marlins after beating Baltimore 10-4 on Tuesday. The right-hander gave up three runs in 6 1-3 innings to win for the sixth time in eight starts.
Sanchez lost his only previous game against San Diego, suffering a 4-1 defeat April 27 despite holding the Padres to two earned runs and striking out seven in 6 1-3 innings.