When the Cincinnati Reds traded for Mat Latos last season, many Reds’ fans questioned the move because of Latos’ anger problems and the issues he had controlling it on the mound.
But Latos quickly silenced his critics he had when he went 14-4 with a 3.48 ERA. He also was a key part in the pitching staff that the Reds had in the 2012 season when they won 10 games in a row at one point in the season, and led the team to the playoffs. Latos also volunteered himself to pitch in game one of the NLDS when Johnny Cueto went out with an injury. That’s nothing to quibble about.
Now that the 2013 season is upon us, Latos is going to be someone who is going to be relied on to help carry the load of the Reds’ pitching staff. If it wasn’t for Cueto on the roster, Latos would most likely be the ace of this staff.
However, the one thing that Latos needs to control is not only his pitches–but his attitude. Last season, Reds’ fans saw what many fans of the San Diego Padres sat through his first three years of his MLB career–his attitude.
When Latos begins to struggle and begins losing his control or not getting calls in his favor, you can almost write off the rest of the game for Latos. This was something that most fans saw in game five of the NLDS between the Reds and San Francisco Giants. Latos struggled with his command and temper, and that ultimately allowed the Giants to have a six-run inning that took the wind out of the sails for the Reds.
If Latos can control his attitude, he is one of the best young pitchers in the game. When his attitude isn’t there, he can be his own worst enemy. As I said earlier, Latos has the stuff to be as dominate, and has proven his ace-like qualities. The only thing that can hold him back from having a Cy Young-like season is his attitude. If he were to harness that energy and transfer it to his stuff and not get rattled, Latos could very easily win 20 games this season.
You could even make the case that the Reds could have the best one-two starting rotation punch in the MLB with Cueto and Latos, if the latter can build off of last season. For that to happen, the attitude and negativity must go.
Follow Brad Stiene on Twitter, @bs_rant1