SAN DIEGO — The Padres’ pitching staff — already one of the best in baseball through two weeks — might soon be adding one of the sport’s most electric starters back into the mix.
Right-hander Dinelson Lamet threw five innings and approximately 70-75 pitches at a game at the alternate training site on Thursday in Arizona. He made the trek back to San Diego on Friday, as he’s done between several of his starts there.
This time, he just might stay put.
Lamet — who has been building up slowly this season in his return from the ulnar collateral ligament strain in his right elbow that sidelined him last postseason — will throw a bullpen session at some point this weekend. If he checks all the boxes, he could be activated during the Padres’ three-game series against the Brewers, potentially either Tuesday or Wednesday.
“He threw the ball really well, got to his pitch count, got to the innings that we wanted to see,” manager Jayce Tingler said of Lamet’s Thursday start. “We’ll see him over the next couple days … but very good reports from [Thursday] night.”
That does not lock Lamet into a start against the Brewers next week. The Padres have been hesitant to commit publicly to any firm plans regarding Lamet. But he’s essentially been built up to the same workload as the rest of San Diego’s rotation in March, before the start of the season. There are several reasons a return vs. Milwaukee makes sense.
Most notably, the Padres will be winding down a stretch with 17 games in 17 days. When that’s done, they’ll enter a stretch with three off-days over the following two weeks — perfect for easing the right-hander back into action.
Lamet’s return would be a huge boost for a pitching staff that owned a 2.78 ERA entering Friday. The right-hander posted a 2.09 mark in 2020, the best qualifying ERA for a starter in franchise history. He finished fourth in National League Cy Young Award voting.
Lamet would presumably fill the rotation spot vacated by left-hander Adrian Morejon, who sustained a left elbow/forearm strain during his start on Sunday. The club has not yet provided an update on Morejon’s status. Ryan Weathers, the long man in the bullpen, filled in for Morejon on Friday night against the Dodgers.
Nola on the mend
Catcher Austin Nola is nearing game action at the team’s alternate training site, Tingler said, though the manager didn’t offer a specific timetable for when that might take place.
Nola, who is currently working out with the team in San Diego as he rehabs a fractured left middle finger, reported “a significant step going forward” over the past day or two.
“He’s been having a good day, then having a bad day, continue that road,” Tingler said. “[Friday] was one of the better days he’s had, where the swelling in that finger has been staying down. … Obviously, we’ve still got a ways to go, but certainly happy to hear that some of the swelling has not popped up.”
In Nola’s absence, Victor Caratini has assumed the role of primary catcher, with rookie Luis Campusano backing him up. Campusano started behind the plate on Friday, with the expectation that Caratini would likely catch Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove the following three days.