Look, when your team goes out and acquires a trio of guys capable of fronting a big league rotation, it only makes sense they garner a bulk of the attention and hype.
But while the San Diego Padres did just that, trading for Blake Snell, Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove this offseason, they’re also bringing back a National League Cy Young contender of their own in Dinelson Lamet.
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Lamet, 28, finished fourth in voting at season’s end last fall, behind winner Trevor Bauer, Jacob deGrom and his new teammate, Darvish. The Dominican-born right-hander was a bona fide ace for San Diego in 2020, making a dozen starts and posting a 2.08 ERA and 0.855 WHIP in 69 innings of work. But before he could take the ball in October, he was shut down with biceps issues – a red flag for a guy who’s already had Tommy John surgery.
Padres need Dinelson Lamet to stay healthy
Padres general manager AJ Preller offered little in the way of further information earlier this month, other than to say Lamet continues to recover and the team plans on him pitching in 2021.
"“There’s not anything from a health standpoint that we know with Dinelson Lamet that, you know, is going to come out in the next couple of days . . . He’s passed every test we’ve had. We’ll get into spring training, and he’s going to be a guy that we’ll let go out and pitch.”"
While the 2021 MLB season should look at least a little more normal than what we got last year, it’ll be anything but typical for players – especially pitchers. Last year, organizations could attack a 60-game slate at a full-on sprint. This year, it’s back to the grind of 162 games, meaning pitching depth will very likely be a major difference maker throughout the league.
Thankfully, the Padres are probably the deepest team in the league when it comes to starting pitching – so much so Preller has said the team could roll with a six-man rotation. If Lamet is sidelined with an injury, San Diego has the pieces in place to weather the storm. But if he can stay healthy – that’s where things really get interesting.
Assuming the team reaches the postseason for the second time in as many years, manager Jayce Tingler would be ready to dominate a team in a best-of-five or even a best-of-seven series. You’re talking about facing down Snell, Darvish, Lamet, Musgrove, Chris Paddack and Adrian Morejon. Oh, and Ryan Weathers and MacKenzie Gore are waiting in the wings, too. Just for good measure.
So, like I said. Whether or not Lamet is healthy, the Padres have the depth that’ll be more critical than ever this season. But if he’s a Cy Young-caliber presence again in 2021, we could be talking about one of the best pitching staffs in recent memory.