Mat Latos and Chicago White Sox Strike a Deal

Mat Latos had a disappointing 2015 season. The Chicago White Sox don’t seem to care as the two sides agree to a one-year deal. What is the fantasy fallout?

The Chicago White Sox haven’t been competitive in the American League Central in recent years and haven’t made the playoff since 2008. As a result, the front office has been really busy this offseason. The team made two trades and greatly improved their infield. The White Sox kept going as the team signed veteran pitcher Mat Latos on Tuesday afternoon. He struggled in 2015, but has been mainly consistent throughout his career. What can you expect from Latos in 2016?

Mat Latos began his career with the San Diego Padres, but gained his fantasy notoriety with the Cincinnati Reds. In those six years, he had a 60-45 record, 3.34 ERA, 1.168 WHIP and 859 strikeouts. This does include is bad rookie season when he had a 4.62 ERA and 1.303 WHIP in 50.2 innings. He isn’t known for being a big strikeout pitcher, but he did break 180 strikeouts in four straight seasons. 

He was then traded to the Miami Marlins during the 2014 Winter Meetings. We, and many others, thought he would rebound and be an effective pitcher in the National League East. The division featured some of the worst-hitting offenses in the league. Unfortunately, Latos could not take advantage of those matchups.

Mat Latos made 16 starts with the Marlins. He went 4-7 with a 4.48 ERA, 1.245 WHIP and 79 strikeouts in 88.1 innings. His first start should have been an indicator of things to come, six hits, two walks and seven runs allowed in just 0.2 innings (94.50 ERA). He settled down after that, but it wasn’t enough as he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In six games (five starts and a relief appearance), Mat Latos went 0-3 with a 6.66 ERA, 1.521 WHIP and 18 strikeouts in 24.1 innings. This didn’t last long as he was designated for assignment and later released. The Los Angeles Angels signed him for the final week. He made two relief appearances with a 4.91 ERA, 1.364 WHIP and three strikeouts in 3.2 innings.

The White Sox starting pitching was not all that great. The team had just two pitchers exceed 10 wins and none of the pitchers had an ERA lower than 3.36. Chris Sale is clearly the ace of the rotation and Jose Quintana hovers around a 3.50 ERA throughout his four-year career. Both pitchers will be 27 when the season begins. Latos recently turned 28, but it feels like he’s been around for longer.

Mat Latos had a hard time controlling his pitches last season. He had a 2.48 BB/9 and 1.01 HR/9, highest since 2012. He had a 43.9 ground ball rate compared to a 37.7 in 2014. Despite hit fly ball rate dropping, his HR/FB rose over four percent. While that is more for the batters that faced him, he needs to do a better job of not leaving his pitches in the strike zone.

He had a 31.4 O-swing percentage, 4.8 percent lower than 2014. Batters were laying off of Latos’ pitches outside the zone and waiting for him to make a good pitch. I think the case will be the same for the beginning of this season, but if he can paint the corners effectively, then batters will have no choice but to chase a pitch or two.

Entering the 2016 season, Mat Latos is likely guaranteed a spot in the rotation. There isn’t anyone on Chicago’s roster that will push him out. If he can remain healthy, then he should be able to reach 200 innings. There are a lot of “ifs” surrounding Latos in 2016, but if the White Sox are willing to take a risk on him, you shouldn’t have a problem either. He’ll be an interesting late-draft pick in standard leagues.

Projections: 9-9, 3.50 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 175 strikeouts

Draft: Round 22