Padres right-hander Mat Latos did not have the best Wednesday afternoon.
According to Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the 23-year-old labored through a 3.2-inning appearance in a minor league intrasquad game, surrendering five earned runs on six hits and issuing three walks. He struck out six, but he needed a total of 76 pitches to get through the short outing.
Latos told the Union-Tribune after the game that he “couldn’t get any adrenaline pumping” and wasn’t throwing at full force against the group of Padres minor leaguers — many of whom he still knows well from the two-plus years that he spent in the Friars’ farm system.
“I played with 90 percent of those guys,” Latos said. “I’m not going to go hard inside and risk hitting one of them. There were positive things. I had a good downhill angle. I worked at a fast tempo. My two-seamer (fastball) was moving.”
That’s all well and good, but Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley didn’t appreciate the youngster throwing his glove against the dugout wall after he was pulled with one out remaining in the fourth inning.
“I would have liked to see better body language from Mat today,” said Balsley. “But he’ll calm down once we start the season. Last year he did a good job with mound presence and poise. He’s aware of his emotions.”
Latos is entering the 2011 season with sky-high expectations after the 2.92 ERA and 189 strikeouts that he tallied across 184.2 innings last year. Rotoworld has him as the seventh most valuable fantasy starter.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.