Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Juggernaut

Fear the Padres - especially on the road.  For all the talk about building this team to play in Petco, they've been very tough on the road.  I was surprised to discover tonight the Padres have the best road record in the National League (18-13).  The Philadelphia Phillies are the only other NL team with even a winning record on the road (Cincinnati is .500 away from Great American Ballpark).

It gets better.  San Diego also has the second best road record in the Majors, behind only Tampa Bay (24-12).  You want the mark of a good team?  They win on the road.  As if you needed any more proof the Padres are good in 2010.

I'm not sure how else to describe Mat Latos at this point.  Since being shellacked by Florida on 26 April, Latos has torn it up.  Ten starts, 9 quality starts, 66 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings, 15 walks, opposing hitters are slashing .159/.223/.237 against him (slash starts don't include last night's game).

The Padres have won seven of his last 10 starts. 

Mat Latos had the eighth best xFIP in the NL among starters for May according to Fangraphs (3.41).  For June, his xFIP has slipped a little bit to a bloated 3.73.  For the season, under the qualified rule set Fangraphs uses, he's tied for the 12th lowest xFIP in the league (3.71).  By xFIP he's the best starter on the Padres.

Jed Hoyer faces a difficult choice.  Latos has thrown 86 innings this season, and the Padres set a 150 inning limit on his arm.  What will the club do if it remains in the pennant race, Latos remains their most consistent pitcher, and he reaches the 150 inning limit in early September?  Will they allow him to push beyond it, or shut him down for the year?

Actually I hope the club is faced with that decision, because we'll be watching meaningful games in September for the first time since 2007.

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