The Diamondbacks got their first look at Mat Latos on Sunday, just more than a year since San Diego fast-tracked him to the major leagues and, perhaps not so coincidentally, began a run that has led to the top of the NL West.
Featuring a fastball that topped out at 97 mph and an 80 mph curve, right-hander Latos had the D-Backs off-balance most of the way in a 10-1 loss, giving up two hits in six shutout innings.
To say that Latos has made a quick rise is understating it. Sixteen months after starting the 2009 season at Class A Fort Wayne, Latos has ascended into Tim Lincecum/Ubaldo Jimenez territory while going 12-5 with a 2.36 ERA. He has more victories than Josh Johnson, a better ERA than Jimenez and more strikeouts than Tim Hudson despite fewer innings than all of them.
It is a lesson not lost on the D-Backs, whose recent retooling of the starting rotation most nearly resembles the one undertaken by San Diego when it traded high-salaried starter Jake Peavy at the 2009 deadline. The Padres received salary relief and a lot of young pitching.