Mat Latos will miss Saturday start with shoulder soreness

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Mat Latos has a 9.00 ERA in four spring training starts and also got knocked around in a minor-league game that doesn’t officially count in those totals, and now he’s been scratched from tomorrow’s scheduled outing because of shoulder soreness.

Latos started Monday, allowing three runs in four innings, but according to manager Bud Black the soreness “just sort of popped up” Wednesday and kept him from the usual between-starts throwing session.

Shoulder problems would explain Latos’ struggles all spring, although certainly having a handful of bad outings in exhibition games doesn’t necessarily require an explanation. Still, prior to news of the arm problems Black and Latos both blamed his poor results on a lack of composure and similar, non-physical factors.

Latos was excellent overall in 2010, throwing 185 innings with a 2.92 ERA and 189/50 K/BB ratio as a 22-year-old, but he did tire down the stretch while going 0-5 with an 8.18 ERA. Combine that September fade with spring struggles and perhaps the shoulder problems date back further than Wednesday.

Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.