The San Diego Padres have won three straight games.
One of those games was against the Washington Nationals, and the other two were against the Chicago Cubs.
What kind of bizarro world are we living in? I am getting off-track. Anyway, back to the story at hand. The Padres defeated the Chicago Cubs, the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs, behind a strong second outing from young right-hander Dinelson Lamet. The argument can even be made that Lamet was better in his second start, and against a better offense to boot.
Dinelson Lamet was very impressive in his major league debut, giving up only five hits and two earned runs over five innings against the New York Mets last Thursday. More importantly for Lamet, he walked only two batters while striking out eight overall. For some, it was an eye-opening experience.
For others, it was a glimpse of just what Lamet may be capable of moving forward. Tuesday night showed us all something even better.
Lamet’s final line of five innings pitched, five hits, two earned runs, one walk, and eight strikeouts, was even better than his previous outing. The stat line may look eerily similar, minus the one walk difference, but Lamet was even better at the margins on Tuesday night. For a better look at just how Lamet was so successful, let’s break down his night inning by inning.
The strike zone plot you see above is from Lamet’s first inning of work. Lamet came out with heat, throwing nine fastballs and getting the Cubs to go down in order. The Cubs made some good contact, but Lamet got the job done with an average fastball velocity of just under 97 mph on his four-seamer.
On to the second inning, and Lamet got into his first bit of trouble. After a hard line from Rizzo started the inning, Lamet got former Padre Jon Jay to strike out swinging. However, with two outs, Jason Heyward and Willson Contreras hit back-to-back doubles, giving the Cubs an early one run lead. Another swinging strikeout got Lamet out of the inning without further damage.
After striking out pitcher Eddie Butler to start the inning, Lamet gave up a one-out walk to Ben Zobrist, his only of the game, and then hit Kyle Schwarber, putting two on for Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. After getting Kris Bryant to strike out on a changeup, Lamet induced a pop-up from Anthony Rizzo, ending the Cubs’ threat.
The fourth inning was relatively uneventful, with two swinging strikeouts sandwiched by a single and a groundout.
In Lamet’s fifth and final inning, he started off with two more swinging strikeouts of Eddie Butler and Ben Zobrist before Kyle Schwarber hit a solo home run to tie the game at two. After a two-out double from Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo flew out to center field to end any further threat.
So in sum, Lamet got seven swinging strikeouts and one foul tip in his five innings of work. Lamet threw 93 pitches total, and did a good job of mixing his pitches, throwing 36 four-seamers, nine two-seamers, 12 changeups, and 36 sliders. After going more heavy with fastballs in his first start, Lamet let loose with his slider in this one, and had wonderful success, getting 10 whiffs on his slider compared to just six on both of his fastball types. Lamet also managed to get 19 called strikes to go along with his 17 swinging strikes. In total, of his 93 pitches, Lamet threw 69 of his 93 pitches for strikes, good for a whopping 74 percent strike rate.
There is still plenty of work for Lamet do before he is a bona fide big league pitcher, but he has already shown what he is capable of. The pitch counts are going to have to drop if Lamet hopes to go deeper than five innings in his starts, but for a rookie pitcher that isn’t a large concern, at least not through the first few starts. What’s most important for Lamet is his velocity is there, his off-speed offerings are working, and he is getting a lot of swings and misses. Jered Weaver did not lead the Padres to a single victory this season. Dinelson Lamet is already two for two. For a pitcher making just his second big league start, this was one heck of a start. Here’s hoping for much more to come.