If you thought the stakes were high the last time Dinelson Lamet took the ball – you were right. But now, they’re even higher for the Padres, with Chris Paddack, Ryan Weathers and Adrian Morejon all sidelined to varying degrees.
Lamet made his 2021 debut back on April 21 and departed after only two innings with forearm tightness – which made us all hold our breath and hope and pray it wasn’t going to lead to the second Tommy John surgery of the right-hander’s career. For now, it’s all systems go – with San Diego desperately needing the 28-year-old to look like the guy who finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting a year ago.
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We’re at the point where there’s no more safety net for Lamet. He’s just got to go out and pitch because there isn’t anything further the organization can do in terms of rehab or build-up. That only ratchets up the tension heading into Tuesday’s game against the Pirates.
"“He’s fully built up,” pitching coach Larry Rothschild said recently. “We tried to check all the boxes to make sure he was covered as far as getting ready and not rushed. We really took a lot of time and care, trying to get him through this. There’s no longer a rehab process. He’s done just about everything he can do. So we’ve got to see now. Let’s get after it, see what happens.”"
San Diego doesn’t need Lamet to go out and be the ace of the staff. The top of the rotation is locked and loaded with early Cy Young contenders Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove. Blake Snell has been solid, but not spectacular behind the duo. But from there, the drop-off is severe and alarming.
Padres have overcome back-end rotation issues this year
As I noted, Paddack is on the IL due to what we can only assume is a COVID-related issue. Weathers left his last outing with dead arm and fatigue symptoms and Morejon is done for the year. Of course, the team’s big deadline acquisition from 2020, Mike Clevinger, is out for the season as well as he works his way back from Tommy John.
So for now, let’s all cross our fingers, hold our breath and hope that Lamet gets through his first start in weeks without issue. Because if he can, at the very least, hold his own, the Padres will take a big step in the right direction in their quest for an NL West title.