Mat Latos had one of the most clutch performances so far in the National League Divisional Series between the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants. If the Reds want to close out the Giants in Game 4, Latos will have to do it again.
The Reds' pitcher was forced into emergency duty during Game 1 when Johnny Cueto left the game after facing just two batters with what was later diagnosed as an oblique strain.
Making his first relief appearance at the major-league level, Latos went four innings, allowing an earned run, four hits and a walk en route to the Reds' 5-2 victory.
As we enter Thursday's Game 4 at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, the question becomes whether Latos can duplicate that performance and advance the Reds to their first National League Championship Series since 1995.
Judging by the Giants' performance the first three games, I would say that the odds are good.
In Games 2 and 3 of the series, the Giants were unable to string an offensive threat against anybody the Reds threw at them, as both Bronson Arroyo and Homer Bailey had no-hitter bids going into the middle part of the game.
Even when the Giants got something going offensively in the 10th inning of their 2-1 Game 3 victory, it was Scott Rolen who made the big play for the Giants when he misplayed a grounder to his left for his second error of the series.
Basically, Latos is facing a team that is in an incredible funk at the plate. If the Giants' hitting woes continue, Latos should have no problem breezing through a lineup that has produced just five hits between Games 2 and 3.
The Reds paid a steep price to acquire Latos during the offseason, and if he can come up with one more clutch outing on Wednesday night, it will be worth every penny for a team that couldn't seem to find any pitching one year ago.