Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Long Road Home

The logical part of my brain knew that this day would happen.

Mat Latos wasn't going to go winless for the rest of his career.

But boy, it kind of started to feel that way. I don't know that I have ever seen someone with more pure, raw talent struggle as much as Latos did in these past 12 starts. Sure, not all of these losses were his fault. Poor run support or defense would foil him more times than I'm sure he wants to remember.

But something seemed off. His velocity was down, his location was off and his confidence seemed to be shrinking with every passing start without a win. I had originally planned a whole post about "What Was Wrong With Latos" in which I was going to bring up the workload increase and the loss time during Spring Training. I was going to write (and did via Twitter) how I thought Latos should go to Tucson and build up his arm and make up the loss time from Spring. Well, we can shelve all that for now.

Colorado is hardly a place to go to right the ship as a pitcher. But the Padres 8-2 win over Colorado to move to .500 on this road trip marks the first win for Mat Latos since 09/07/10 (a win that, at the time, put San Diego 1 game ahead of SF for the NL West division title) seems bigger somehow, more than a regular season win in May over a division foe.

"It s a struggle no one wants to go through. It's good to get it out of the way." - Mat Latos

Whether this is a turning point of the season remains to be seen. Perhaps that's reading too much into one win. But for Latos I have to think this was more than just some win in May. This exercised demons. The 0-10 monkey is officially off his back.

The pitching has been suspect on this road trip; the defense not much better. The offense is clearly showing signs of life after a month of futility that defied any statistical measure you could come up with. It helps when you play games in Miller Park and Coors against teams with leaky bullpens.

The Mat Latos losing streak had become symbolic of the struggles of the 2011 Padres. At least for me. It encapsulated everything that was going wrong with the Padres. Yes, the offense was going to struggle with the absence of Adrian, but it would be ok because the pitching and defense should be as stellar as the 2010 version. But the offense was worst than anyone could had expected, the defense mediocre and now the ace of the staff couldn't win a game.

But this game is as much about confidence as anything. You can see that in Hawpe, who has been one of the hottest hitters in the NL since the end of April.

And now, hopefully, we will see it in Mat Latos.

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