San Diego Padres should be concerned with Dinelson Lamet

Dinelson Lamet of the San Diego Padres. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Dinelson Lamet of the San Diego Padres. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Dinelson Lamet was dominant for the San Diego Padres, but they should still be concerned with him heading into the offseason.

As dominant as Dinelson Lamet was on the mound at times, and as overpowering (93 Ks in 69 IP) as he was in 12 starts, the San Diego Padres should have some concern with Lamet heading into the offseason.

The concern begins and ends with if Lamet’s right bicep injury will reappear in 2021. It is a notion that will keep Padres fans speculating if his throwing arm is healthy enough to pitch an entire baseball season. Suddenly, what was a team (starting rotation) strength doesn’t look as deep as originally thought. A lack of good starting pitching makes the Friars advantage at the plate less pronounced.

Padres Sticks Struggled in Playoffs

The consensus was if the Padres were going to advance in the 2020 MLB playoffs, they would ride the coattails of their bats.  Who could argue as the Friars averaged close to six runs-per-game by scoring 325 runs and hitting 95 home runs in 60 regular season contests.

However, that production changed significantly in the postseason. The Padres averaged little over four runs in their six playoff games. The biggest area of frustration was hitting with runners in scoring position. The Padres went 8-49 with a .163 batting average. Thus, those big bats did not look as invincible come October.

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Lamet Has Battled Through an Arm Injury Before

Padres fans have to be amazed to have Lamet in any capacity on the mound. Injuries have been a constant in his three-year MLB career. After being chosen to the 2018 Padres opening day roster, Lamet injured his ulnar ligament in his right elbow that required Tommy John surgery and missing the remainder of the season. His rehabilitation was quite grueling. Lamet pitched in Lake Elsinore and El Paso before making his triumphant return back to the majors on the Fourth of July against the Los Angeles Dodgers the following season.

There were still obstacles facing the right-hander as Lamet went 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA in his first five starts. But, it was Lamet’s next five starts that drew some hope that he was working his way back to his former self. Lamet went 2-1 with a 3.54 ERA and increased his strikeouts by 10 over that period. What was more impressive, Lamet’s delivery looked more fluid towards home plate.

Lamet’s Bicep Injury Spoiled Friars Postseason

No question, he was dominant (3-1 2.09 ERA) in 12 starts this season. However, Lamet’s injury in his final start of the regular season put a monkey wrench in the Friars postseason hopes. Padres general manager AJ Preller and manager Jayce Tingler were counting on him to become a big-game performer. It was clear and evident they didn’t have confidence in the other starters of the rotation.

In six playoff games, the Padres starters pitched only 12.1 innings and gave up 17 runs. At the first sign of trouble, Tingler came out of the dugout to make a pitching change. He wasn’t shy about using every pitcher at his disposal to win a game. But, the added stress of throwing extended innings lessened the productivity of the bullpen over the length of their playoff stay.

At some point, your bullpen has to hit the reset button and this is accomplished by getting a quality playoff start. You cannot go every night and liberally make pitching changes without feeling the ramifications down the road in a short series. In October, the Padres showed their vulnerability in the starting rotation to the world…or at least to their postseason opponent.

Padres Need Other Pitching Options in 2021

The Padres need to have other starting rotation options in place before heading into next spring training. It would be a mistake to place all of your expectations that Lamet will stay healthy in 2021. Because, the odds aren’t in your favor.

Lamet doesn’t seem to be the type of pitcher who shies away from a big moment. But, he is prone to injury which may deny his ability to pitch every fifth day. The thought of him shutting down an opponent is wishful thinking. But the Padres don’t have the luxury to expect Lamet will be available for all 32 starts in 2021.

As many runs as the San Diego Padres are capable of scoring, it will come down to how well their starting rotation pitches if they’re going to contend for an NL West title.

The answer is obvious. It comes down to if Dinelson Lamet’s right arm is durable enough to make a difference.