Can Cardinals’ Bats Solve Latos?

Photo Credit: bleacherreport.com

Photo Credit: bleacherreport.com

The St. Louis Cardinals throttled the pitching of the Cincinnati Reds last night for nine runs–getting hits from all eight position players in the starting lineup. However, tonight, they face Mat Latos–a pitcher who has had great success against them since joining the Reds.

Latos enters the game with an unbeaten 5-0 record this season and a quality 2.90 earned-run average. Not including the playoffs last season, Latos has not lost in his last 19 appearances. Also, he is 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA in his last three starts against St. Louis.

The Cardinals’ top two hitters against Latos are Yadier Molina and Jon Jay. Molina has 10 hits in 23 at-bats (.435 average) with one home run and five RBI. Jay, who had two hits and two RBI last night, has nine hits in 21 at-bats (.429 average) against Latos. Carlos Beltran has just four hits in 14 at-bats against the Reds’ hard-throwing righty, but three of those have left the playing field for home runs.

Thus, the Cardinals have had decent hitting success against Latos. They just need to be able to string together some hits in order to knock in some runners. David Freese (17 games), Matt Carpenter (16 games), and Allen Craig (11 games) will all look to extend their current hitting streaks.

What the Cardinals’ Bats Can Expect from Latos:

Of the 1,190 pitches he has thrown so far in 2013, 29% have been fastballs (average velocity of 91.6 MPH) and 26% have been sliders (average velocity of 85.3 MPH). Batters are hitting just .212 on his sliders but have been successful against his fastball with a .306 batting average. He does not throw his curveball often (only 9.7% of the time), but when he does, it is tough on hitters who have just a .133 average against that pitch. He also has a changeup in his repertoire, but he throws it less than 5% of the time. (Statistics calculated from data provided by PITCHF/x on fangraphs.com)

Thus, if the Cardinals’ offense wants to score some runs against Latos, it is going to have to jump on his fastballs. He is a fantastic pitcher that has given up only five home runs this season, so they will have to string together hits and keep up their hot hitting with two outs.

Tyler Lyons looks to return to form tonight after having a tough outing against the San Francisco Giants last week in which he allowed four earned-runs that led to his first loss of his rookie season. If Lyons is able to limit his pitch count and keep the Cardinals in the game, and the offense can capitalize on Latos’ fastballs, they will be in a good position to win yet another series against the Reds. However, it will not be easy because Latos is one of the best pitchers in the National League, and the Reds are out to redeem themselves after last night’s performance.

This game will be fun to watch, that is for sure.

Until next time…

Joe (@stlCupOfJoe)

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