I’m not normally one to treat win-loss records for pitchers as being particularly meaningful, but this stat has to be pretty scary for Padres fans: Mat Latos has lost nine consecutive starts dating back to last season.
Latos was 14-5 with a 2.21 ERA in 26 starts through September 7 of last year. Since then he’s 0-9 with a 6.60 ERA in nine starts.
Latos has allowed 57 hits in 44 innings during that time, including seven homers, which is a lot of long balls for someone calling pitcher-friendly Petco Park home. He’s also began the season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, which when combined with the extended struggles might suggest there’s something more going on with his arm.
However, his 44/17 K/BB ratio in actually very strong and after yesterday’s loss–in which just one of his six runs allowed was earned–Latos told John Maffei of the North County Times that he feels fine physically:
I feel fine. On the positive side, I didn’t give up a home run. I had good command of my curve and fastball. I felt I was aggressive down in the zone. I had a rough spring with injuries, didn’t pitch in a lot of games. I faced a lot of guys in rehab assignments, but it’s hard to get a rhythm facing your own guys. Have I lost confidence? No. Not at all. It’s not like I’m giving up 10 runs and getting the crap kicked out of me. I need to stay where I’m at and build on it.
Latos’ raw stuff has still been good enough to rack up plenty of strikeouts, but 0-9 with a 6.60 ERA is tough to ignore and his fastball velocity is down about two miles per hour so far this season.
Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.
For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.
So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?
The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.
I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.
Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.
But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.
United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.
Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.
The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.