On Sunday, Dinelson Lamet felt some discomfort in his throwing elbow after tossing a slider against the Mariners in the Padres’ very last spring training game of the 2018 season in Peoria. He left the game immediately, but there is no word yet on the severity of his injury.
Lamet was probably a lock to start one of the three games against the Brewers next week. Now, the beginning of his 2018 season is in jeopardy. The Dominican right-handed pitcher was clocked in the mid 90’s during his start before leaving, so it is possible this is just a strain and nothing more. Still, an elbow injury is nothing to take lightly. The Padres are concerned.
The timing of this injury is inconvenient for Lamet, but for the Padres, it could be a blessing in disguise.
The team does not need a fifth starting pitcher until the eighth game of the season, a road game against the Astros on April 6th. That fifth starter would be required to make two more appearances immediately, as the Padres play in 16 straight games from April 2 though April 18. It is not clear if Lamet will return by then, but the Padres do have options.
You can evaluate either pitcher after those three games and make a decision after that about their future. Young has hit bumps in the road this spring, but could still be serviceable as a fifth starter. Erlin, recovery from Tommy John surgery, has looked really good this spring and could be completely healthy. The team might prefer to have a veteran presence at the bottom of the rotation to begin the season.
The second option, and the option that probably most Padre fans prefer, is to give the three starts to Joey Lucchesi. The left-handed wonder was nearly untouchable this spring, recording a 1.54 ERA in four starts. Andy Green already indicated that the Padres could bring Lucchesi back if an injury happened. He said this before Sunday’s game, so it is not clear if the team will go this route.
Lucchesi would be fun to watch, but I am sure the team is hesitant to go with him. There really is no rush for the left-handed pitcher. Allowing him to get his feet wet at the Triple-A level could benefit him. There will be a time when he is recalled this season to Petco. Now doesn’t necessarily have to be that time. However, there are plenty of pitchers who get the call from Double-A to the majors and perform well in their careers. Joey Lucchesi has already shown he is ready to get major league hitters out.
The main focus will be on Lamet as he was supposed to be a major cog in the system for the Padres. Hopefully his elbow pain is minor. If he has to miss time, the Padres have options, both young and old. Joey Luchessi’s time is coming. But will it start in April 2018?