When a team far exceeds expectations, there is always at least one player who far surpassed all projections. Multiple players have done so for the San Diego Padres, none so more than Mat Latos.
At just 22-years old, Latos was supposed to be effective but experience a lot of growing pains, not unlike Max Scherzer last season; that has not happened. Latos is ranked 16th in strikeouts, seventh in ERA, eighth in FIP, eighth in xFIP, tenth in BB/9 and 16th in WAR (Fangraphs). Those numbers put him among the elite pitchers in the National League, even accounting for PetCo. Don't forget, the 22-year-old was Bud Black's fifth starter to start the season.
|2010 - Mat Latos||10-4||17||17||1||1||0||0||106.2||75||29||29||9||28||99||2.45||.97|
Regression? Nope, that's not what I'm calling for, though that would probably be likely as well. You may notice that I have mentioned Latos' age several times now. It is important. Let's check the innings he has thrown in his career:
|2008||45.0||SS-A, Lo-A, Hi-A|
|2009||123.0||Hi-A, AA, MLB|
Latos dealt with an intercostal strain multiple times in 2008, yet still found himself in the majors the following year. He has ace written all over him, and the Padres aren't about to mortgage the future to squeeze more innings out of him, even as division leaders. As it is, GasLampBall is already asking when Latos will be shut down to limit his innings.
Truthfully, the shutdown has already started. Bud Black has manipulated their rotation to push Latos back after the All-Star Break, giving him 16 days between starts. Essentially, the Padres are going to try to hold off the rest of the NL West while benching their best pitcher. It is just not going to work.
Tim Stauffer would probably be the best choice to replace Latos when he gets shut down. While Stauffer has allowed just one run in relief this season, it has been in 24.1 innings. Fantastic, no doubt, but still a fairly small sample. He has a career ERA of 4.55 for the Padres, and he would be a big downgrade from Latos.
How much? If you want to get gritty with WAR, Latos has been a 2.1 WAR pitcher this year. Considering the 150-180 inning limit he is at, the Padres will remove him for 3-8 starts, probably starting in August. Even if Stauffer is a replacement level pitcher, the net difference in WAR is less than two games, which the Padres lead the NL West. So no biggie right?
But this is the issue with this analysis; you can't look at total wins. The marginal loss of WAR in each individual game is undeniable, and on multiple occasions, it can be just enough to drop a W into an L. After all, he is the only Padre starter with a win in the month of July. Then consider Latos would be added to a division chase in September after 3-8 starts of down-time. Who is to say his arm will respond to his All-Star caliber ability?
The Rockies are charging and the Dodgers and Giants will be retooling. While the Padres are playing for the future more than they are 2010, the NL West is there for the taking this year.
Team capsules after the jump.
NL West Report
Arizona (34-55, 5th, L1, 17.5 GB)
Divisional Change: Lost 0.5 games to first-place San Diego.
This Week: 3 game road series @ Padres
You Should Know: While comfortably three games better than the pace for their atrocious 2004 mark, the Diamondbacks are still on pace for 100 losses, a distinction the Rockies have never held.
News: First round-pick Barret Loux failed his physical this week. Josh Byrnes overruled his scouting director when selecting Loux, and Tracy Ringolsby implies the pick may have hastened Byrnes' dismissal. After all, Loux was not a consensus first round pick, had been ridden hard by Texas A&M late in the season and had surgery in college. Perhaps Byrnes should have known better. Contrarily, AZSnakePit suggests Byrnes maybe DID know better, choosing to punt the pick on an injured player who wouldn't pass his physical in order to earn a pick in next year's deeper draft.
It seems Detroit and Arizona really like each other, enough to want to swap out their entire rosters for each other. The two teams have shared Jose Valverde, Brandon Lyon, Dontrelle Willis and completed that big trade in the offseason. Now, the Tigers want Stephen Drew. Soon after that report, Nick Piecoro found out the Tigers and D-Backs have not discussed Drew in the past week.
#6 / Short Stop / Arizona Diamondbacks
Mar 16, 1983
|2010 - Stephen Drew||80||294||43||81||16||7||4||29||31||53||6||2||.276||.350||.418|
The Tigers might also be interested in Dan Haren, but Jason Beck correctly points out that Drew is a much more likely target.
Sean McAdam tweets that while Boston is interested in Chris Snyder, they would trade for the catcher this offseason, not before the trade deadline.
Dan Connely tweets that while Kevin Towers is "in the mix" to be the new GM for Arizona, their number one choice is Yankees amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer.
Jim McLennan asks "Who is the Diamondbacks' top offensive prospect?" Not exactly a world-beating list. And if you're curious, Bobby Borchering and A.J. Pollock (their first round picks in 2009) have a ho-hum .319 and .307 wOBA in Single-A South Bend this year, respectively.
Chris Young will be in the home run derby at the All-Star game. He will not be the one I will be rooting for.
Injuries: Brandon Webb threw another successful bullpen session on July 6.
Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries
Los Angeles (49-39, t-2nd, W1, 2.0 GB)
Last Week: 4-3. 1-2 vs. Marlins, 3-1 vs. Cubs.
Divisional Change: Gained 1.5 games on San Diego.
This Week: 4 game road series @ Cardinals.
You Should Know: After starting off his major league career in eye-opening fashion, John Ely has completely fell apart. Last week, he allowed 12 runs (11 earned) in five innings. In two starts. The Dodgers have lost five of his last six starts, so you can bet Ned Colletti is looking for ways to replace his pumpkin.
News: Los Angeles added their third and fourth All-Stars this week. First, Rafael Furcal was chosen to replace Jose Reyes, and then Charlie Manuel chose LHP Hong-Chih Kuo to replace OF Jason Heyward instead of another outfielder, like Carlos Gonzalez.
#56 / Pitcher / Los Angeles Dodgers
Jul 23, 1981
|2010 - Hong-Chih Kuo||3-1||25||0||0||0||2||1||26.1||11||3||3||1||8||36||1.03||.72|
The Dodgers' priority is pitching help, though it remains to be seen whether they will be able to find a match. They were one of four teams scouting Roy Oswalt on July 8, though I would be shocked if Ned Colletti can find a way to make that work.
Los Angeles active in trade talks for Cliff Lee, but according to Dylan Hernandez, Colletti's choice to make James Loney and Chad Billingsley untouchable closed the door on that avenue. MLB.com's Evan Drellich confirms this.
Bill Shaikin of the LA Times suggests that the financial issues with the Dodgers might extend into this offseasonas well if the McCourt divorce goes to
McCourt court. This does not surprise me in the slightest. It just highlights how much of a wide open window this year and next is for the Rockies in the NL West.
Transactions: Signed FA OF and former Diamondback Trent Oeljten and assigned him to AAA Albuquerque. Placed RHP Ronald Belisario on the restricted list and actived RHP Carlos Monasterios from the 15-day DL.
Injuries: Manny Ramirez began a rehab assignment this past weekend. He should be due back soon after the ASB.
Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries
San Diego (52-37, 1st, W1)
Last Week: 2-4. 1-2 @ Nationals. 1-2 @ Rockies.
Divisional Change: Lost 1.5 games to 2nd place Los Angeles and 2.5 games to now second place Colorado. By winning yesterday, they maintain first place for the 12th straight Monday.
This Week: 3 game home series vs. Diamondbacks.
You Should Know: Seven Padres hitters have an OPS+ over 100. That does not include Chase Headley.
News: Bud Black says he isn't worried about the NL West race. At least he wasn't before Saturday's game. Think that has changed?
With starting outfielder Will Venable on the DL, Jon Paul Morosi asked a scout if he thought the Padres would trade for an outfielder:
"No," scout told me. "Aaron Cunningham is playing better than Venable was."
The Rockies saw that first hand this weekend.
#28 / Right Field / San Diego Padres
Apr 24, 1986
|2010 - Aaron Cunningham||20||54||8||18||7||0||1||11||1||10||0||2||.333||.339||.519|
I'm not sure how knowledgeable that scout is, because Jed Hoyer has said he will try to acquire a middle-of-the-order bat and a starting pitcher, and that the Padres WILL be buyers. If you were concerned, Hoyer has been okayed to take on payroll in such deals, if necessary, though he'll be looking for a middle of the order bat with solid defense. I'm not really sure who he thinks he'll be getting to fit the bill.
Know this name: Keyvius Sampson. The 2009 4th rounder is tearing up the Northwest League in Short Season at just 19: . He dominated Tri City on June 26 and has been garnering interest from many teams. Check that stat line.
The Padres did take out injury insurance on Chris Young's contract, though Jed Hoyer was quite dodgy when asked whether that included 2010. Hmm...
San Diego Padres Injuries
San Francisco (47-41, 4th, W2, 4 GB)
Last Week: 1-6. 4-0 @ Brewers. 2-1 @ Nationals. There is a trio of teams in the NL hovering around a .400 WP% (Arizona, Pittsburgh and Houston). In the next tier (.440-.450), there is the Cubs, Brewers and Nationals. The Giants got healthy against some decidedly weak teams, but considering it was all on the road, and their only loss came against SteKeKn SKaKsbKrK, I tip my cap.
Divisional Change: After a free fall the last two weeks, the Giants made up 3.5 games on first-place San Diego.
This Week: 4 game home series vs. Mets.
You Should Know: Buster Posey is really good.
News: So, the Giants have a young catcher that is pretty good. In fact, Buster Posey recently had the best 10-game stretch of any rookie hitter in MLB history. From July 1-10, Posey smacked 19 hits, collected 13 RBI and hit 6 HR. No rookie ever reached a single one of those numbers in any stretch, let alone all three. Posey followed that up yesterday with a 1-for-3, 2 RBI, 1-run day, 1 strikeout day.
#28 / Catcher / San Francisco Giants
Mar 27, 1987
|2010 - Buster Posey||37||134||21||47||5||1||7||23||7||15||0||1||.351||.386||.560|
Transactions: Recalled RHP Joe Martinez.
Injuries: LHP Dan Runzler suffered a dislocated kneecap and will be out 6-8 weeks. OF Andres Torres suffered a strained groin, but the injury is minor. He should return soon after the All-Star Break.