Dinelson Lamet’s next stop will be in San Diego. Photo: Jorge Salgado.

EL PASO, Texas —In 2017, after eight starts with the Triple-A Chihuahuas, the Padres promoted Dinelson Lamet to the big league. He and his 95-plus mph fastball excited Padres fans tired of seeing what had been a growing line of place-holders and retreads.

In 21 big league starts that year, Lamet posted a 4.57 ERA with 139 strikeouts in 114.1 innings against 54 walks and 88 hits.  Like most rookie pitchers, he had his ups and downs, but a few things stood out about the then-24-year-old as held the opposition to a .210 batting average in his rookie year: a big fastball and a devastating slider that we saw in the minor leagues.

Dinelson Lamet with the Double-A San Antonio Missions in 2016. Photo: San Antonio Missions.

The big question was if he could develop an effective changeup as a third pitch. Many believed it would emerge in his second year in the big leagues.

However, just before the 2018 season, Lamet underwent Tommy John surgery knocking him out for a full year. Now, Lamet is on the verge of returning to the big leagues, with a changeup and curve to pair with a fastball that still arrives at the plate in a hurry.

So far, he’s thrown two rehab starts with the High-A Lake Elsinore Storm and three with the Chihuahuas, where we caught his last minor league appearance.

“I see him doing whatever he wants, either starting or relieving,” said Triple-A manager Edwin Rodriguez. “He’s strong, has great stuff and he can go six or seven innings.”

We caught up with Lamet and talked about the process of coming back.

MadFriars:  How did being away from baseball improve your development?

Dinelson Lamet:  From the beginning, I was aware that I was going to lose a whole year, so I knew that I had to continue to prepare myself as much as I possibly could.

So, it was not time to stop working.

You have always had a good fastball.  How long did it take the velocity to come back and the command?

Dinelson Lamet: At the beginning, it was strange facing hitters because I had been away for so long.  Velocity-wise it came back pretty quickly, and then the command.

With the Padres you were mostly a fastball-slider. Bronswell Patrick [the El Paso Chihuahuas pitching coach] said that you now have a fastball, slider, and curveball.  Why the change?

Dinelson Lamet:  [laughs]  Bronswell is wrong, I will have to correct him on that.  I still have the changeup and I added a curveball. The curveball will help me with lefties and that is why I am working with it.

I was impressed in your last outing, after you gave up the solo home run you came back with three straight offspeed pitches.  What were they?

Dinelson Lamet:  I threw a pair of curves, then I came back with a slider to finish it off.

Now that you’ve had a year of rehab, how much do you weigh?

Dinelson Lamet:  I am 6-foot-4 and I weigh 231-pounds.

How tough is it for you to throw the curve and the slider and how do you keep them from blending?

Dinelson Lamet: I have the same grip, the only thing I really change is the angle of my arm.

Going forward do you see yourself more as a starter or a reliever?

Dinelson Lamet:  I always work hard to prepare myself for whatever role.  Right now I am a starter but if the club thinks I can help them the most in the bullpen – that is where I will go.

Posted by John Conniff

John grew up in Poway and has written for MadFriars since 2004. He has written articles for Baseball America, FoxSports San Diego, the El Paso Times, San Antonio Express-News, Amarillo Globe-News, Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette and Pacific Daily News in addition to appearing on numerous radio programs and podcasts. He can also break down the best places to eat for all five of the affiliates. There is no best place to eat in Peoria, Arizona.

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