Despite being acquired to help stabilize the backend of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting rotation, Mat Latos was banished to the bullpen after just three starts and never to be seen… for 16 days.
With a stretch of three off days over their eight-game road trip, the Dodgers trimmed down to a four-man rotation. Latos warmed up in the bullpen during the Dodgers’ Aug. 18 game against the Oakland Athletics, though didn’t enter and never made an appearance as a reliever.
Saturday marked the right-hander’s first start since Aug. 13 with only the bullpen action and a simulated game at the club’s Spring Training complex to speak of during the time between starts. Latos managed to last just 4.2 innings, throwing 86 pitches and allowing two runs, one on a balk in his return to the rotation.
“To have to go against a team like that, it’s tough to come back against a team like that,” Latos said. “You definitely have to have your A-game. I didn’t necessarily have that, but my command was down, so it’s a positive.”
Dexter Fowler opened the game with a leadoff double, but Latos quickly managed to settle in and struck out the side. The Chicago Cubs’ leadoff man reached in all but one of the five innings Latos pitched in.
During his pregame remarks Mattingly said he wasn’t sure what to expect from his starter given the lengthy time between outings; he also added the plan was for Latos to pitch every five days. “Not bad,” was how Mattingly later summed up Latos’ night of work, while reiterating the Dodgers’ starting rotation is “set.”
Although Latos was content with his ability to keep the ball down, he acknowledged the need to build back up toward throwing 100 pitches in a start and expressed a dissatisfaction with the extended time off. “Not at all,” he bluntly answered when asked if it may have had any benefit.