Latos shows what he can do when healthy

Latos shows what he can do when healthy

MIAMI -- What the Marlins saw from Mat Latos on Saturday afternoon is what the organization envisioned when it traded for the right-hander at the Winter Meetings.

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Reinstated from the disabled list before the game, Latos turned in a dominating performance, striking out 11 in seven innings in Miami's 4-1 victory over the Rockies at Marlins Park.

The 11 strikeouts are the most by a Marlins starter this season. It was the right-hander's 10th double-digit strikeout game, and first since Aug. 27, 2014, against the Cubs.

"We made a trade to go and get an experienced guy who can do exactly what he did," Miami manager Dan Jennings said. "When you look at his quality, and the execution pitch after pitch, that was what was huge. He threw some cutters that they were swinging over by a foot. It's good to see him at 100 percent. I think you're truly seeing now the Mat Latos that the Marlins traded for, and it's a huge boost for us."

The Marlins acquired Latos from the Reds in December for right-hander Anthony DeSclafani and catcher Chad Wallach.

Before going on the DL with left knee inflammation, it had been a struggle for Latos. The veteran entered the game 1-4 with a 6.12 ERA in nine starts. But he missed substantial time last year after undergoing left knee surgery, and the same knee has bothered him since Spring Training.

He had fluid drained from the knee during the spring, and he wasn't right the first two months. Saturday was his first start since May 21.

"It feels good to have two legs under me, that's for sure," Latos said.

The right-hander sent a message from the first inning, striking out leadoff hitter D.J. LeMahieu with a 95-mph fastball. He reached 96 mph on the day.

"I didn't see 94, 95, 96," Latos said. "I was just rearing back and throwing. I'm just worried about where I'm placing the ball. I'm not worried about what the velocity is. I could tell the ball was jumping out of my hand. I didn't think it was 96. I'll take it."

Prior to Saturday, Latos hadn't struck out more than six in his first nine starts with the Marlins.

"I know what I was capable of doing," the right-hander said. "It's a matter of having two legs under me. Everything just felt strong. Everything was going for me. I was able to make some good pitches, execute some good offspeed pitches. I had good command of my two-seamer today. I had good command both sides of the plate with the fastball."

Said Jennings: "Great job today with Latos working with [catcher] Jeff Mathis, who did a great job behind the plate today. With Latos coming back, working with Mathis, they were really on the same page all day."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.