San Diego Padres’ starting pitcher Dinelson Lamet came out of almost nowhere to succeed at the MLB level. He never ranked higher than 17th in the team’s top prospects. However he was able to beat the odds and put together a strong rookie season in the major leagues.
Over 21 games and 114.1 innings, Lamet put together a 7-8 record with a 4.57 ERA and a 139/54 K/BB ratio. One of his most impressive starts was a five inning, eight strikeout game against the Cubs.
Going into the 2018 season, Lamet has a roster spot locked up. With a better defense behind him and a better offense at the plate, Lamet should be his numbers across the board increase. He knows what it takes to succeed and will be looking to improve as a sophomore.
Many Padres’ fans have discussed how Lamet could be in for a breakout year. He showed signs as a rookie and has the potential to be the team’s ace of the future. However, major sports media outlets have begun to catch on to just how good Lamet really is.
Dan Szymborski wrote an article detailing the most likely breakout candidates for the 2018 season. Among them was of course Dinelson Lamet. Szymborski wrote:
"ZiPS is a huge fan of Lamet, seeing him put up a league-average season for the Padres in his first full season in the majors in 2018. Lamet’s walk rate is on the high side, but I suspect that reflects the fact that he’s still fairly inexperienced for a 25-year-old, with only 412 ⅔ innings at all professional levels, rather than a fundamental inability to throw strikes. He actually threw strikes at a league-average rate despite 4.3 walks a game in 2017.What Lamet is still missing is a good off-speed pitch, and while they’ve been working on his changeup, it remains a work in progress. As a rookie, he used it very sparingly in the majors, but if it ever clicks — and it’s a team priority — Lamet has very real ace potential.Key breakout stat: 17 percent shot at a 4+ WAR season"
Szymborski brings up three great points for a potential breakout. For starters, he is gaining more experience. He attributes his high walk rate to his lack of innings. As Lamet continues to pitch at the major league level and continue to grow, that walk rate should go down. However if he was this good as a rookie, there’s a good chance he will be great as a sophomore.
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Lamet currently only uses two pitches, a fastball and a slider. Both are extremely successful and above average MLB pitches. However, as a starter he needs much more of an arsenal. Reports have said that he is working to gain a changeup, which would make him a much more rounded pitcher. In Szymborski’s eyes it could even make him an ace.
Finally, Szymborski points out that there is a 17% chance that Lamet ends the year with a WAR of 4+. In 2017, only 20 pitchers held a WAR that was 4.0 or higher. Adding Lamet to that category would put him among the MLB’s elite.
Joel Reuter wrote an article in which he detailed every MLB team’s best building block. Instead of choosing Wil Myers, he went with Lamet. Reuter wrote:
"The 25-year-old was never a Top-100 prospect, but he climbed three levels with a breakout 2016 season, and he turned more than a few heads once he finally arrived in San Diego last year.His changeup is still a work in progress, but he used a mid-90s fastball and a devastating slider to punch out 139 batters in 114.1 innings as a rookie."
Lamet never being a top prospect and then going out to potential being the team’s ace is nothing to be scoffed at. The Padres have so many top pitching prospects in the farm system such as Mackenzie Gore and Cal Quantrill. It’s only indicative of Lamet’s talent that he can lead of a group of such talented pitchers.
Reuter also points out his impressive strikeout numbers. Punching out 139 batters over 114.1 innings leads to a 10.9 K/9 ratio. If he had qualified, that would’ve ranked 12th best in the major leagues.
Lamet’s rise up the organizational ladder is quite impressive. However his potential strikeout prowess is what will make him a star. If he can continue his massive strikeout numbers over an entire season, he will rank among some of the best pitchers in the MLB.
Mike Petrillo wrote an article on five pitchers he thinks can break out in 2018. As well as Luis Castillo, Tyler Chatwood, Garrett Richards and Luiz Gohara, Lamet made the list. Petrillo wrote:
"A 7-8, 4.57 line for the Padres made Lamet’s rookie season easy to miss, and if we’re setting expectations properly here, a “breakout” for him is probably more that of “a league average starter” than it is an ace. Still, if you looked closely, there was a lot to like here, starting with a fastball that averaged 95 mph, a top-30 mark among starters.Thanks to that fastball and a very good slider, Lamet was something near dominant against righty hitters. There were 235 starters who induced at least 100 swings from righties, and Lamet’s 34.8 percent swing-and-miss rate was fifth-best — and this is a list topped by Scherzer and Kluber. All told, Lamet’s excellent line of .154/.241/.296 against righties came out to a .242 wOBA, fourth-best among starters, and just look at the other names on this list.Lowest wOBA against righty batters, starting pitchers.190 — Scherzer.229 — Brad Peacock.234 — Kluber.242 — Lamet.247 — Luis Severino.248 — KershawThat’s a list you want to be on. The problem, however, were lefties. Because Lamet basically only throws two pitches, he was very vulnerable to lefty batters, who tagged him for a .258/.365/.502 line. While he’s working on a changeup, it’s still a work in progress. If he gets there, he could be a very good starting pitcher. If not, then a potential future as a good reliever isn’t a bad outcome, either."
Petrillo starts off by putting a damper on the idea of Lamet as a true “ace”, but goes on to praise the prized Padres’ pitcher for multiple traits. Petrillo points out that Lamet had the 28th fastest fastball among starting pitchers. At just 25, that’s an impressive feat to accomplish.
He then goes on to show two different stats that proves Lamet’s dominance against right handed hitters. Being on the same list as guys like Corey Kluber and Clayton Kershaw shows just how how good Lamet can be.
If he can improve against the lefties, he has the potential to be one of the best pitchers in all of the MLB.
Dinelson Lamet will be one of the most exciting Padres to watch in 2018. He is coming off of an impressive 2017 and has all the tools to succeed. While he may play for a team that isn’t very good right now, he is getting serious hype.
He has all the tools to continue being one of the most dominant pitchers in the league. If he can continue to improve his changeup and his approach against lefties, the Padres might’ve found their ace.
Guys like Gore and Quantrill and Lucchesi will continue to be the talk of the Padres’ fanbase. The future is on the front of everyone’s minds. However Lamet has proven that he could be the best pitcher in San Diego. If he comes through with a strong 2018, he’ll have the title to himself.
A few years ago, no one would’ve expected Lamet to get national media attention. But now he’s caught the eye of more than a few people. Padres’ fans have found themselves a gem in Dinelson Lamet.