Padres Need to Find a Role for Dinelson Lamet in 2020
By Tristan Jung
The San Diego Padres have assembled a great nucleus of young talent, but their rotation is going to need more than just Chris Paddack if they want to compete going forward.
Enter Dinelson Lamet, a highly-touted 27-year-old righty. Lamet pitched 73 solid innings last year after returning from Tommy John surgery, but there are worries about his command and durability. However, the Padres need to trust that Dinelson Lamet can become a solid rotation piece in 2020, something that he's more than capable of doing.
Lamet was signed as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic and quickly started dominating the minor leagues. He was first called up to the majors in 2017 and pitched 114 1/3 innings, showing off an impressive 10.94 K/9. His strikeout numbers have only gotten better since. Last year, he hit an astonishing 12.95 K/9, good enough for a fantastic 24.0 K-BB%.
Currently, Lamet is pencilled in as the team's fifth starter behind Garrett Richards, Joey Lucchesi and Zach Davies. But with Lamet showing off outstanding stuff, it'll be hard to keep him from rising up the ranks. Lamet has had issues with control that often precede a move to the bullpen. His career rate of 4.04 BB/9 needs to drop for him to stick around long-term, but he did improve on that front in 2019. He also need to limit homers surrendered, as he has given up an average of 1.44 HR/9 in his career.
Lamet is primarily a two-pitch pitcher. His average fastball is 95.9 MPH and mostly sets up his 85.5 MPH curveball. That curveball is quickly becoming one of the most dominant pitches in baseball: Lamet limited batters to an absurd .105 batting average and .168 slugging percentage on his curveball last year. With an absurd whiff rate of 48.3 percent, it's no wonder he throws the curve 31.7 percent of the time.
The Padres' coaching staff has work to do in order to get Lamet to be an ace. His fastball, both the regular four-seam and the sinker, was crushed by opposing batters last year. The fastball doesn't have enough break and basically sets up perfectly down the middle for hitters. If Lamet doesn't develop a proper third pitch nor improve his fastball numbers, he probably won't stick around as a starter.
However, with Lamet healthy and ready to play a big role on the Padres' rotation, they cannot afford to let his talent go to waste. There will be games where Lamet is experimenting and gets shelled, but the Padres must stick the course if they want to have a truly great rotation.
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Tristan Jung is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Tristan Jung also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username tristan1117. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.