The hits just keep on coming for the Padres.
No, I’m not talking about the offense, which enters play Wednesday ranked 20th in the league in terms of OPS and went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position in Wednesday’s loss to Milwaukee. I’m talking about the seemingly endless stream of early-season injuries, the last two of which have eaten into the team’s starting pitching depth in a big way.
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Making his long-awaited return to the mound on Wednesday, Dinelson Lamet looked sharp early. But no one is talking about that today. After just two innings, the right-hander left with right forearm tightness. There’s been no update since – but given he was returning from a UCL injury and has already had Tommy John surgery once, optimism is running very low right now.
Lamet has never been viewed as a sure thing for San Diego this year. The team and he opted to forego a surgery route after his stellar 2020 campaign ended abruptly – and as he ramped up, it looked like everything was moving along nicely. Of course, that all changed on Wednesday.
"“Everything he’s gone through, all the work … we haven’t had any type of setback,” manager Jayce Tingler told the San Diego Union-Tribune after the game. “This was the first time. I would imagine it’s tough to recreate the major leagues and being out there, the adrenaline. … The only thing I can think of is just a little more adrenaline today that maybe fired something up because we haven’t seen it over the last couple weeks.”"
Padres need their young arms to pick up the slack
Earlier this month the Padres lost Adrian Morejon with what was also initially described as a forearm strain. Tommy John surgery will cost him the rest of the 2021 season and, likely, the first portion of 2022, as well.
That means Ryan Weathers, still just 21, is the next man up to round out the Padres rotation. Make no mistake, this is still a very talented group. But without Morejon and, potentially, Lamet – it’s not nearly as formidable as it once seemed.
Weathers will be tested in ways he just hasn’t been yet. He’d never pitched above A-ball prior to this year – and now he’ll be asked to take on big league hitters and hold his own in the back of the San Diego staff.
It’s been a rough go for the Padres lately – and hardly the start the team or the fans envisioned when the year began. At 10-10 on the young season, San Diego is already five games back of the Dodgers, who are on a historic pace in their quest to defend their title. A lost season for Lamet is the last thing this team needs right now.