Padres: Dinelson Lamet will decide the team’s fate this season

(Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images) /

The San Diego Padres boast some of the most impressive pitching depth in all of baseball. And that depth will be put to the test just two weeks into the regular season with the news that Adrian Morejon will need Tommy John surgery and will miss the rest of the 2021 season.

Morejon left his April 11 start due to an injury – and now, we have a clearer picture as to its severity. There’s obviously never a good time to lose an up-and-comer on your pitching staff, but it does line up well with the return of right-hander Dinelson Lamet, who will make his first start of the year on Wednesday.

"“I’m really excited to just get a true look at him in a game competition,” Lamet’s rotation mate Joe Musgrove told “I’m just really excited to have him back up here with us and to be able to learn a little bit from him. He’s got some pitches that are elite that I’m trying to sharpen up, so being able to be with him on a regular basis is going to help me a lot, too.”"

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Last season, Lamet turned in a breakout campaign during the pandemic-shortened season, finishing fourth in National League Cy Young voting after he posted a 2.09 ERA in a dozen starts. Unfortunately, a late season injury sidelined him come October and he didn’t factor into the postseason picture for the Padres.

But now, with Morejon done for the year, Lamet has a chance to impact this rotation right away.

There’s still MacKenzie Gore waiting in the wings – but he still needs some seasoning before he’s ready to take up permanent residence in the staff. San Diego is already without Mike Clevinger for the year, so this already shows how deep the organization is on the mound.

Padres need quality behind Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove atop the rotation

Thankfully, Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove have both been absolutely dominant to start the year. Blake Snell has been pretty pedestrian – as has Chris Paddack. But come October, Jayce Tingler needs three to four guys capable of toeing the rubber with a series on the line.

Enter Lamet.

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The 28-year-old Dominican-born hurler could wind up being the most important piece of the puzzle for this team. If he struggles to stay healthy, the Padres could be forced to look to the trade market to round out the rotation come the deadline at the end of July. But if Lamet is doing his thing in the middle of this staff, San Diego could still boast one of the top groups of starters in the league.