Cincinnati Reds Need Healthy Mat Latos To Have Shot At Postseason

By Illya Harrell
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Mat Latos is set to take the mound against the first-place Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday, Jun. 14, in Milwaukee. That news alone should be enough to have Reds fans fist bumping to the point of sore knuckles.

In terms of wins vs. losses, the Brewers have treated the big right-hander harshly. Latos has two wins against four losses with eight career starts facing Milwaukee. In his first two seasons with the Reds—2012 and 2013—his record is 2-2 in six starts.

Both losses as a member of the Reds came in 2013 while pitching in Milwaukee. He was knocked all around Miller Park in one game, allowing 11 base runners and five earned runs in 6.2 inning of work. The other loss was of the “tough luck” variety; a game that saw Latos toss seven strong, yielding only two runs.

The question that remains unanswered is quite simple. Assuming Latos stays healthy for the remainder of the season, will it be enough for the Reds to clinch another playoff berth?

First things first, look at the tangible factors. Number one on the list, check out the standings. The Reds are only three games back in the NL Wild Card race.

Next up, Latos is a top-tier pitcher. If the Reds didn’t have Johnny Cueto, he’d be the ace of the starting rotation. The Reds now have two absolute studs at the top of their rotation.

Latos will be taking Tony Cingrani’s spot as a starter. Cingrani has tremendous potential, but his numbers so far this season have been lackluster at best. A 2-7 record, 4.68 ERA, 1.525 WHIP and a dreadful 1.8 home runs per nine innings pitched most likely spell a trip down to the minors.

Now think about some intangible factors. Little more than a week ago Latos’ widely publicized, “it’s pretty bogus I have to go on another rehab assignment,” statement made clear that he is seething to pitch in Cincinnati. If he’s chomping at the bit as much as the quote makes it sound, the teams he faces should be scared. Very, very scared.

With Latos steaming, it’s quite possible the fire will rub off on the offense. He might just be that little spark the underachieving lineup needs to start banging like a group of major leaguers rather than a dismal church softball squad.

Will all of this translate into another playoff season? With 97-games left in the regular season, who knows?

One thing is for sure, the Reds are a much better team with Latos taking the ball every fifth day.

Illya Harrell is a Cincinnati Reds writer for Follow him on Twitter @Illya_Harrell, like him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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