The Padres are ready to turn Mat Latos loose.
The 23-year-old right-hander posted a stellar 2.92 ERA and 1.08 WHIP across 31 starts last season as a big league sophomore, striking out 189 batters and walking only 50.
His strikeout total might have been even higher and his rate stats might have fallen even further, but the Padres played it safe in September and October, finding extra pockets of rest between starts for him down the stretch and keeping his pitch counts low. He made only one start of six innings or more after September 7.
That will all change this year.
Padres manager Bud Black told Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune on Saturday that Latos will not be limited in any way this season. At least, not by the San Diego coaching staff.
“Not to the point that there were last year, when it was a topic from the first day of spring training,” said the skipper. “There will be no hard numbers in regards to his innings pitched.”
In the recently launched Rotoworld Fantasy Draft Guide, we have Latos winning 13 games against a 3.15 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 185 strikeouts. Check out the Draft Guide for over 1,000 more profiles and projections.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.