Foremost, Mat Latos looks healthy. In a season debut delayed by a combination of shoulder bursitis and poor form, Latos had enough fastball to strike out Reds stars such as Joey Votto and Jay Bruce tonight. He broke off a few sharp curveballs and sliders, too, as part of an early strikeout flurry. As should be expected, Latos is not in optimal game shape after throwing only 10 Cactus League innings and about 10 more against minor leaguers. The Reds took advantage in the middle innings, scoring all three of the runs against him in the six innings. Latos threw 94 pitches and struck out seven. As his stamina improves, his stuff should hold longer.
The shoulder pain Latos reported late in spring camp apparently was fleeting. Jed Hoyer told me that Latos didn't have an MRI on his shoulder. For what it's worth, some pitching coaches say Latos' short-stride delivery places extra strain on his shoulder. The Padres lengthened his stride by a few inches last year but to tinker further might reduce the 6-foot-6 right-hander's downward angle, which is a big part of his game.
After his outing tonight, Latos said his arm feels 100 percent. He praised Jonny Gomes, Cincinnati's No. 5 hitter, for hitting a rolling curveball for a home run in the fourth inning. The two-run home run that leadoff man Chris Heisey hit in the fifth was off a two-seam fastball that "got away from me," Latos said. "It was supposed to be down and away."