Mat Latos made the most of two extra days of rest, pitching his second career complete game and striking out a career-high 13 batters Monday as the Reds beat the Brewers 3-1.
Latos was pushed back to Monday because Reds manager Dusty Baker wanted to slot him in between Mike Leake and Bronson Arroyo in the rotation.
“Leake and Arroyo are very similar,” Baker said. “Plus the extra day with the off-day, too, gave us the liberty to do something.”
Whether the extra rest helped or not, Latos responded with easily his best effort for Cincinnati. He entered with a 5.20 ERA in 14 starts, and his previous high for innings pitched in a game this year was 7 1/3. Inefficiency had been a hallmark of his season, but he needed just 109 pitches to get through nine tonight, even with all of the strikeouts mixed in.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.