Even before today’s masterful 1-single, no-walk shutout of the Giants, it was evident Mat Latos has made a tremendous amount of improvement from 2009 to 2010.
- His strikeout rate was basically unchanged. This might not sound like a positive, but a lot of pitchers tend to strike out fewer batters in their second or third year once they realize that major league hitters don’t tend to chase bad pitches.
- He cut his walk rate from 4.09 BB/9 to 2.36 (and then went out and didn’t walk anyone for nine innings).
- He improved his K/BB ratio from 1.70 to 2.89.
- His liner rate went down, from 18.8% to 14.2%. 14.2% is absolutely stellar.
- His groundball rate shot up from 36.1% (problematic and well below average) to 51.9% (well above average). His homer rate hasn’t come down from last year’s high levels, mainly due to some bad luck and a couple of early-season rocky outings, but if he keeps up the groundballing ways, the ball will stop leaving the yard.
- He improved his changeup from 4.03 runs below average per 100 pitches to 1.17 runs above average per 100 pitches, despite using the pitch about 1 1/2 times as much as he did last year.
That’s a laundry list of improvements. The only things to go down were the homer rate (which I already covered) and his fastball effectiveness (from .99 runs above average per 100 pitches to .80 below).
It’s great to have a great young pitching prospect, but it’s even better when that guy comes up to the majors and continues to improve. The Dodgers, for example, are having some issues with Clayton Kershaw, and Edwin Jackson has blown up in Arizona, to use another NL West example. It’s great to see that Latos doesn’t seem to be heading down that path of stagnation.