Mat Latos opened his first start in a White Sox uniform by pumping a lot of easy strikes and getting a couple strikeouts with a strong curveball.
He ended his first start by giving up five runs in the fifth inning, including a pair of homers that turned a 3-2 lead into a 7-3 deficit.
It's difficult to make any rash conclusions about the first spring start (Jacob Turner would be the fourth starter if we could). The first two innings were a clinic in efficiency -- he opened with nine straight strikes before clipping Brandon Belt's elbow with the 10th. While he allowed single runs in the third and fourth, it was primarily because the Giants' hit-and-run game worked (including a Conor Gillaspie blooper on a pitch out of the zone).
His stuff got away from him at the end. He blamed a loss of discipline, attributing it to his hair color:
"I kind of expected it," Latos said. "I didn’t expect it to be a complete explosion, that was embarrassing. But I’m healthy, the knee feels good. Like I said, first inning through fourth inning shows how I really feel. Just again, a dumb move by me. A blonde moment, if you will, just getting out of what I wanted to accomplish and that’s not the game plan. We don’t want to get aggravated when we’re out there. Stick to the game plan. If it’s not broke don’t fix it. I kind of let it to get me and that was a dumb selfish mistake and we’ll progress there."
Robin Ventura and Bruce Levine's scout attributed it to first-start fatigue, wearing down after getting amped up. If that's the case, he laid a good foundation going forward, as his fastball was in last year's range (89 to 92 mph). All sides could be correct, with the physical fatigue able to drain mental resources. We're going to need a few outings to figure out what he's really got, as well as some pitch data.
We could also some more camera angles to see how much he's changed with his delivery, but it only took one to see how much he altered his windup.
Last year with the Dodgers, he started with his arms waist-high and feet shoulder-width apart, and, as he started his windup with his left foot, he had a bit of a hesitation/false start with his push leg:
Comparing that GIF to one from his first start in a White Sox uniform, and you can spot a couple of key differences:
He starts with his hands at face height, and when he plants his back foot, he only does it once, resulting in a much smoother windup.
From that point on though, it more or less looks the same from the center-field camera. Here's how that windup with the Dodgers finishes:
And here's its White Sox counterpart:
He's still pretty much straight over the top. What you can't tell is whether his stride is any different, because his lack of a strong leg drive led to that left knee -- the one that's been giving him problems -- taking on a lot of the load. I didn't see any side-angle cameras that might show it more definitively.
The good news is that Latos had no issues with that knee during the start. Hopefully he'll feel the same after the adrenaline wears off.