The Nationals have struck a slightly modified agreement with righty Mat Latos that will result in him joining the major league roster, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Though Latos could’ve opted out today if he was not promoted, he has agreed to stay in the minors until rosters expand on Thursday and will return to the majors at that time.
Because Latos is already in the organization, the delay will not have any impact on his eligibility for a hypothetical post-season roster. Of course, as things stand, it would be something of a surprise if he ends up representing an appealing option for playoff duty.
The 28-year-old has been on a roller-coaster ever since he was traded from the Reds to the Marlins after the 2014 season. There have been moments where he looked like the high-quality starter he once was, and others when he has been mediocre on the hill while representing a questionable clubhouse presence.
It’s a results-oriented business at the end of the day, and Latos hasn’t steadily delivered of late. Since the start of the 2015 campaign, he has compiled a 4.84 ERA over 176 2/3 innings with 6.7 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9.
ERA estimators suggest that he has been somewhat better than those figures would suggest. Trouble is, though, his peripherals and average fastball velocity have sagged more recently, raising renewed concerns whether he’ll ever regain the form that allowed him to average 200 frames of 3.27 ERA pitching over 2010 to 2013.
Latos and the Nats hope that he’ll thrive in his new environment, which represents something of a homecoming. The righty is from the Northern Virginia area originally, though he spent the bulk of his youth in Florida. More importantly, perhaps, he has done his best work as a big leaguer under the command of former Reds skipper Dusty Baker, who now helms the Nationals.
The preliminary results have been reasonably promising. Latos has permitted just two earned runs over 17 innings in three starts at the Triple-A level, though he has only ten strikeouts against seven walks in that span.
Whether or not Latos is able to contribute much down the stretch, then, is at best an open question. But the Nationals are in need of solid-enough innings as they look to ease Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross back into action in advance of the playoffs. With a healthy eight-game advantage in the NL East, the Nats can probably afford to take a risk on quality in favor of managing the burden on their existing staff. That ought to provide some opportunity for Latos to tally some MLB frames before he returns to the open market at season’s end.