Glorious though those 29 pitches were, he departed with forearm tightness -- a fitting injury for a guy who we learned in the offseason had narrowly avoided Tommy John surgery a few months prior. Forearm pain is often a sign of damage to the elbow ligament, for those unaware.
Lamet is no stranger to Tommy John surgery, having undergone the procedure in 2018. In fact, he has yet to make it a full season since recovering. It wouldn't be surprising, then, to see him shut down for an extended stretch, perhaps even undergoing another surgical procedure.
And in such an event, why wouldn't the Padres turn to their top prospect to take his place?
MacKenzie Gore is 22 years old and had advanced to Double-A by the end of 2019. He had a 1.69 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 12.0 K/9 that year (albeit mostly at high Class A) and is regarded as the closest thing to can't-miss in the pitcher prospect ranks. He was reportedly in the hunt for a rotation spot this spring and is a near lock to debut at some point this season.
So why not now? Even the pitcher who had been occupying Lamet's rotation spot to begin the year, Adrian Morejon, has since been lost to his own Tommy John surgery. The timing is almost too perfect.
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Yeah ... maybe. And with Gore being only 48 percent rostered in CBS Sports leagues, it's well worth speculating. But look, the reason he wasn't called up last year, as everyone expected, is because he was having command issues at the alternate training site, and those carried over to spring training, where he walked eight in 11 innings.
I couldn't tell you what sort of progress Gore has made at the new alternate training site -- the one established after spring training ended -- because stats aren't made public, but if it isn't substantial, I have to think the Padres will play it safe and let Ryan Weathers take Lamet's spot for now. It doesn't mean an extended absence for Lamet wouldn't move up Gore's timetable -- perhaps enough that you may want to have him stashed regardless -- but I'd be surprised if it prompts his immediate arrival.
MIL Milwaukee • #10 • Age: 29
After breaking out with a .278 batting average and 22 home runs in 2019, Omar Narvaez was one of many players whose production cratered during the wacky 2020 season, propelled in large part by a bloated strikeout rate, so it's especially encouraging to see him having struck out just 12.7 percent of the time this year. He's making much harder contact than ever before, has a .324 xBA and .503 xSLG, and of course plays a position where there's little to like overall.
Joey Wendle 3B
TB Tampa Bay • #18 • Age: 31
With another two hits Wednesday, both doubles, Joey Wendle's production is getting harder to ignore. He's actually tied with Whit Merrifield for most Head-to-Head points among second basemen this year -- and that's with him having yet to steal his first base after swiping eight in 50 games last year. His exit velocity and hard-hit rate are both way up without any drop in contact rate, but ultimately, I'm skeptical the 31-year-old has unlocked some sort of latent ability. There's a case for riding the hot hand, though.
Justin Upton LF
LAA L.A. Angels • #10 • Age: 33
Speaking of hot hands, I get the feeling Justin Upton is becoming one, and with his history of doing mega damage over a short period of time, it's something to take advantage of. He homered for the third time in four games Wednesday. There's a feeling he's washed at age 33, but his past couple seasons were wrecked by injuries. He showed signs of life down the stretch last season, batting .289 with seven homers and a .981 OPS in his final 24 games, and homered four times this spring.
Lucas Sims RP
CIN Cincinnati • #39 • Age: 27
Amir Garrett blew a save in epic fashion Wednesday, serving up a three-run homer to Josh VanMeter, and now has a 16.20 ERA in six appearances. It would be shocking to see him get the next save chance, especially since he admitted after the game that his "slider's not worth anything right now." The question is whether Lucas Sims or Sean Doolittle replaces him. Given Doolittle's resurgence this year, it could go either way, but Sims has been the setup man to this point.
PHI Philadelphia • #48 • Age: 24
There has been no indication that Spencer Howard, the organization's top prospect, is about to step into the starting rotation, but with Matt Moore landing on the IL and looking ineffective before then, it would certainly stand to reason. Howard looked on his way to securing a rotation spot before having back spasms this spring, and he showed why with an overpowering relief appearance Tuesday. His velocity is up 2.5 mph from his disappointing trial run last year, when he had inflammation in his rotator cuff. He put together a 2.03 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 11.9 K/9 in the minors two years ago.
ARI Arizona • #58 • Age: 29
In securing his second save Wednesday (or what was actually a continuation of Tuesday's game), Stefan Crichton reiterated that he's indeed the Diamondbacks closer now, and there's little reason to believe he'll relinquish the role once Joakim Soria returns from the IL. That is, unless he blows it, which he may -- he doesn't exactly have closer stuff -- but he did go 5 for 5 in save chances down the stretch last season. It's always nice (and all too rare) to have a guy who you know is in line for his team's next save.