Right-hander Mat Latos can opt out of his minor league deal with the Nationals if he isn’t added to the team’s 25-man roster by tomorrow, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link). Latos signed a minor league deal with the Nats in late June that reportedly contained multiple opt-out dates, and given how late it is in the season, one would think Monday could be the final chance for Latos to pursue another opportunity if he so chooses.
It has been quite the roller-coaster of a season for Latos, who began the year with an 0.74 ERA over his first 24 1/3 innings in the White Sox rotation. Latos greatly outperformed his peripherals stats in delivering this great start, and he came back to earth by posting a 7.25 ERA over his next 36 innings. On the whole, Latos has a 4.62 ERA, 44.3% grounder rate, 4.77 K/9 and 1.28 K/BB rate over 60 1/3 frames in 2016, with ERA indicators like FIP (5.54), xFIP (5.47) and SIERA (5.57) hinting that he is still somewhat fortunate to be delivering even that modest 4.62 figure.
Since joining the Nats system, however, Latos has a 1.29 ERA, 2.8 K/BB rate and 28 strikeouts over 28 innings split between rookie ball and Triple-A. As you might expect, those numbers are largely weighted towards Latos dominating the rookie league; while he has a 1.06 ERA over 17 frames at Triple-A Syracuse, his 5.3 K/9 indicates that Latos is still having problems missing bats against tougher competition. The righty has battled knee injuries and a likely-related loss of velocity in recent years, averaging around 90mph over the last two seasons.
As the Nationals’ depth chart (tip of the hat to Roster Resource) indicates, the NL East leaders aren’t short on starting pitching options even with Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross on the disabled list. Youngsters A.J. Cole and Lucas Giolito have filled in behind rotation fixtures Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark, Reynaldo Lopez could be recalled from Triple-A for another start, or swingman Yusmeiro Petit is also available for a spot outing. Washington does have an eight-game lead in the NL East, however, so the club has some flexibility in calling up Latos as a veteran innings eater in order to preserve one of its young arms. Giolito, for instance, has struggled at the MLB level, including a rough start today in a loss to the Rockies.