I Officially Declare Mat Latos "Ace" of the Padres

…for whatever that’s worth.

Entering the year, I was a huge proponent of Mat Latos getting a spot in the rotation behind Chris Young, Kevin Correia, and Jon Garland.

We still sort of have this conception of Garland and Correia at the “front” of the rotation backed by “youngsters” Latos, Clayton Richard, and Wade LeBlanc, but let’s tell it like it is: Mat Latos is easily the best pitcher on this team, and may be one of the best in baseball.

Latos has K’d 79 and walked just 22 in 86 innings this year, a stellar 3.59 K/BB ratio. He has a 2.93 ERA, and his tERA is even lower, at 2.74. Latos’ one Achilles’ heel entering the year was his low grounder rate, but he’s pushed it from 36.1% last year to a solid 44.6% this year.

You might say Richard’s been as good, but I’d argue with that. Richard has been solid, and yes, he has a 2.93 ERA as well, but his 66/33 K/BB in 89 IP is nowhere near as impressive, and his tERA sits at 3.23, a good half-run higher than Latos’. Richard’s also gotten luckier with HR/FB rates (7.4% to Latos’ 9.3%).

Garland’s tERA is 4.07, way worse than both, and, of course, his ERA is a higher 3.26 and his 58/38 K/BB (in 91 IP) is even less impressive than Richard’s. And Correia has an ERA over 5.00. Wade LeBlanc has a 2.88 ERA, but has gotten very lucky, as he’s allowed quite a bit of hard contact: his tERA sits at 3.97.

If these guys keep their current paces all year, it should be Latos taking the ball on Opening Day next year, by a mile. I’m very excited to see what the future holds for the big righthander: the sky appears to be the limit. And this is no slight on the others, as the rest of the rotation has been very good–just not quite at Latos’ level.

Tags: Clayton Richard Jon Garland Kevin Correia Mat Latos San Diego Padres Wade LeBlanc

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