When the Marlins added Mat Latos, they were confident he would be a valuable addition to a young rotation. But Latos has had difficulty early, and according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, the Marlins are "puzzled" by his early struggles.
The Marlins are puzzled how Mat Latos, one of only five pitchers to make at least 15 starts and produce an ERA of 3.50 each of the past five seasons, could be struggling like this (6.12 ERA). They believe knee inflammation is contributing to the ineffectiveness; he was placed on the disabled list Saturday.
Latos was placed on the disabled list on Saturday but did not have success from the outset. He has posted a 6.12 ERA and 3.50 FIP in 42.2 innings in 2015 and is walking 3.39 batters per nine innings. Although his strikeout rate has also increased to this point (6.51 to 7.59), Latos has had difficulty with control in several outings this season.
After allowing seven runs in two thirds of an inning in his first start against Atlanta, Latos' best outing came against the Giants. In seven innings, he allowed one run while striking out five and not issuing a walk. The Marlins have depended on Latos to pitch deep into games, and his inability to do so has contributed to the bullpen being overused consistently early this season.
Throughout spring training, the Marlins were confident in their ability to compete with Jose Fernandez for the first half of the season. Henderson Alvarez was considered to be the staff's ace, however it was recently reported he has been pitching through an injury the Marlins were aware he had before the start of the season. Latos was seen as a quality number two option and his past success would suggest he should have continued to thrive. The injury likely altered his ability to perform consistently and Latos may bounce back after his disabled list stint.
During his start against the Braves last weekend, Latos was also hit by a line drive. That combined with his rough outing against the Diamondbacks (six runs in 5.1 innings) may have been enough to have the Marlins place him on the disabled list. Since he has established himself as consistent, the Marlins' shock is justified.
Since the Marlins are without Fernandez, Alvarez, Latos, and Jarred Cosart, the club is expected to give Jose Urena and Justin Nicolino opportunities to start. Once he is activated, if Latos continues to labor, the Marlins will have a decision to make. He will be a free agent at the end of the year and the Marlins will likely go with the starter who gives them the best chance to win games.