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Dodgers

Have the Dodgers reached the end of their Mat Latos experiment?

Mat Latos

Dodgers starting pitcher Mat Latos throws during the first inning against the Padres.

(Denis Poroy / Getty Images)

Well, it was better than what they had. That was pretty much the reasoning.

At the trade deadline, the Dodgers did not pick up a David Price or a Cole Hamels, but they did acquire Mat Latos and Alex Wood to add to their rotation. Jettisoned were Mike Bolsinger to triple-A and Carlos Frias (already on the disabled list).

And if Wood has been OK (2-3, 4.11 ERA, 1.43 WHIP in six starts), Latos has proved to be something much less. In five starts as a Dodger, he is 0-2 with a 6.56 ERA and 1.53 WHIP. All while opponents have hit .326 against him, most of the rocket variety.

Worse, he has been unable to pitch at least five innings in his last four starts.

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After his latest lousy outing Thursday in San Diego, he was apparently irked at being lifted after four innings, complaining he was on a short leash and that that was making it difficult for him to find his rhythm.

“I kind of settled in, put up two zeros up on the board, found my release point,” Latos said. “By the time I do that, I’m already out of the game.”

Which, as the O.C. Register’s Bill Plunkett tweeted, offered the unique defense: “I was terrible in the first two innings because I’m not being left in for the fifth inning.”

If you want to pitch deep in a game during the stretch, it might be best not to give up four runs on seven hits the first two innings. These games have defined meaning now. Their impact on the standings and a postseason position is clear.

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Managers do not manage a game the same way in September that they do in May, and a Dodgers team trying to win its division has no room for a pitcher who can’t get out of the fifth inning.

Which makes you wonder if the Dodgers are at the end of their Latos experiment. Bolsinger -- who ironically lost his place in the rotation despite a 2.83 ERA because he struggled to pitch beyond the fifth -- is scheduled to make a spot start Friday against the Padres.

But if he pitches well, how do the Dodgers go back to Latos? Manager Don Mattingly admitted after Thursday that the Dodgers needed to reexamine his place in the rotation.

“I’m sure it’s something we talk about,” Mattingly said.

Latos’ spot next comes up Tuesday in Anaheim. After that, the Dodgers have the next two Thursdays off, so, in theory, they could skip the fifth spot until Sept. 22.

Latos has had some terrific seasons, but the last two years have been a struggle. He is still only 27, so it’s not like he’s going to just disappear, but he’s not exactly helping his free agent push any.

He was supposed to be better than what they had. Now it seems he could be replaced by the guy he replaced.

Twitter: @stevedilbeck

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