The Cincinnati Reds knew they were paying a hefty price to pry Mat Latos away from the San Diego Padres prior to last season, but his addition to the front of their rotation has helped the club rank among the best pitching staffs in baseball the last two years.
The right-hander visits San Diego for the second time since being dealt and will oppose former Red Edinson Volquez as Cincinnati looks to end a four-game losing streak Tuesday night
Cincinnati acquired Latos from the Padres on Dec. 17, 2011, for Volquez and former first-round picks Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal. He was a 14-game winner for San Diego in 2010 and went 27-29 with a 3.37 ERA in 72 starts from 2009-11.
The Reds don’t seem to have any complaints about the trade, as Latos (10-3, 3.39 ERA) helped the team rank tied for third in the majors with a 3.34 ERA on their way to an NL Central title in 2012.
He’s having another solid campaign and allowed two runs - one earned - in 7 2-3 innings of Thursday’s 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“Latos was really dealing,” manager Dusty Baker said. “His fastball looked like it was going to go low, and then it stayed up in the zone. He also had a really good breaking ball.”
Cincinnati (59-48) has a 3.32 ERA that ranks second in baseball to Pittsburgh, but a couple of former Reds helped the Padres earn a thrilling 2-1 victory in Monday’s series opener.
Closer Aroldis Chapman walked Alonso to open the bottom of the ninth, and pinch-hitter Chris Denorfia, who played 67 games for Cincinnati in 2005 and ’06, followed with a walkoff homer.
“It was one of those when you hit it hard on that part of the bat, you don’t even feel the vibration. It felt great,” Denorfia said.
Alonso is hitting .375 with nine RBIs over his last 11 for San Diego (49-58), which has won three straight despite scoring three runs over the last two contests.
The Reds have scored three times during their skid and will look to get their offense back on track while facing Volquez, who will oppose his former team for the third time.
Volquez (8-8, 5.70) was 30-18 with a 4.17 ERA for the Reds from 2008-11 and won 17 games in his first season in Cincinnati after coming over from Texas in the trade that sent Josh Hamilton to the Rangers.
The right-hander gave up three runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 10-8 win over Milwaukee on Thursday.
”Edinson did a nice job early in the game,” manager Bud Black said. ”I thought he was throwing the ball well. He was really utilizing the curveball and changeup. He was making his pitches.”
Both Latos and Volquez pitched well against their former teams when they opposed each other July 5, 2012. Latos gave up four hits and struck out eight in seven scoreless innings, while Volquez allowed one run and fanned 10 in seven frames before the Padres scored in the bottom of the ninth for a 2-1 win.
Volquez wasn’t as good but still picked up the victory in his only other start versus the Reds on July 30, 2012, as he allowed five runs in five innings of an 11-5 win.
Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo sat out the series opener after twisting his left ankle stealing second Sunday and is listed as day to day.