Mat Latos has thrown 522.1 innings of 3.31-ERA ball in three years, going 33-16 with a 117 ERA+, a 1.18 WHIP, 9 bWAR, and a bad attitude. He walks like an ace, talks like an ace...and there's a definitive feeling around Cincinnati that the team will be better once he's in the rear-view mirror.
There's lots of talk of trading him this offseason, and it would certainly be at his lowest value since he was drafted in 2006. After pitching 30+ starts in four straight years, Matty broke down at the end of a masterful 2013, getting offseason surgery on his throwing elbow. He came into 2014 Spring Training gingerly, and gunked up his ankle soon thereafter -- unrelatedly.
Latos only made his 2014 debut in mid-June and he had 16 very solid starts that were vintage Latos (high innings, low hits, low walks) in all but one aspect: his strikeouts simply weren't there. In September, he was shutdown due to more elbow gunkiness. And he has another round of surgery in November on the elbow. New mother Dallas Latos had less time in the hospital than her husband last year.
Since he only pitched half a season, small sample caveats apply to the following. But after two years of acting as a groundball-heavy pitcher (1.3 GB per FB), Mat was at .94 GB/FB last year. He added many more cutters/changeups than he had in the past, and eased off the two-seamer. The slider, forever his putout pitch, lost its effectiveness according to nebulous Fangraphs Pitch Values. In 2014, Latos walked like an ace, talked like an ace, and pitched like an injured innings-eater.
So that's a bummer, since healthy Mat Latos has been devastating. But what does the bummer mean?
It means Latos is on the block, obviously. With only one year of control left and some serious question marks about his future viability, Mat's no longer a lock for rejecting a Qualifying Offer and may finally (+ unfortunately) be put in the situation to disappoint Reds fans like they've wanted him to for a couple years now. Jocketty may want that buck passed to someone else.
Latos may have a 220IP, 200K season next season, but I wouldn't expect it. The smart money with any pitcher is on the under, so it's tough to really blame skepticism of what's a now thrice-surgered right arm. The Reds are hoping to find one sucker GM out of the other 29, but they may end up with a BP-esque situation where he's bemusedly in Surprise come February.
All the clues from 2014 point one way, but 2013 wasn't so terribly long ago. Let's see who believes in it more, Jocketty or some other guy.