Padres: Less is more for Dinelson Lamet this season

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

Dinelson Lamet took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in the series finale on Sunday. And through four starts with the Padres, he’s looked brilliant doing less.

Over the weekend, one of the Padres bright spots in their series win over Arizona was Dinelson Lamet. The big righty came back from Tommy John surgery, making 14 starts to close out the 2019 season. In the offseason, he was tabbed as a dark-horse Cy Young candidate, and now everyone understands why.

On Sunday, Lamet was painting the corners of the strike zone with an easy 100 MPH. It’s interesting. Last year, he featured five pitches, but he’s dropped the curveball and changeup this season. Granted, the latter was rarely utilized last season, but the curveball was Lamet’s second-most used pitch.

His curveball yielded a .105 batting average, accounting for 58 of his 105 strikeouts. But he’s replaced his curveball with the slider, which went from a 12.2 percent usage to 51.2 percent in 2020.

More on his slider.

Lamet has struck out 20-of-28 batters via the slider, yielding a .118 average and 47.7 whiff rate. Getting really nerdy here, this pitch has 0.8 inches more – or 21 percent more – horizontal movement than the league average.

Aside from his primary pitch, Lamet has featured a four-seam fastball and sinker fastball this year, both averaging out at 97.1 MPH. The difference is his sinker has crazy vertical and horizontal movement on it. Both pitches have yielded a .200 and .143 average, respectively.

And the use of just three pitches has worked well for him thus far, as all of his pitches have a noticeable uptick in velocity. Much of the national attention goes towards Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, and Chris Paddack, but Lamet’s value to the Padres’ success in 2020 cannot be quantified.

He’s becoming must-see tv.