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Lamet continues racking up strikeouts

Myers leaves game after feeling lightheaded
@AJCassavell
September 26, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- It took a month for Dinelson Lamet to shake off all the rust. Upon his midseason return from Tommy John surgery, Lamet posted a 5.09 ERA in his first five outings. His command was erratic, and his starts were too short. But the Padres saw no reason

SAN DIEGO -- It took a month for Dinelson Lamet to shake off all the rust. Upon his midseason return from Tommy John surgery, Lamet posted a 5.09 ERA in his first five outings. His command was erratic, and his starts were too short.

But the Padres saw no reason to panic. Lamet still had his blazing high-90s fastball, and he still had two breaking pitches that made hitters look silly. After 15 months on the shelf following surgery, they always expected a bit of rust.

That rust is no more. On Wednesday night, in the Padres’ 6-4 loss to Los Angeles at Petco Park, Lamet put the finishing touches on his first season post-surgery. He gave up four runs, including three via the long ball, but he struck out 10 Dodgers.

Box score

Most importantly, Lamet has positioned himself nicely for 2020. He endured no setbacks with his health over his 14 starts, and his numbers got better as the season progressed. Lamet owns a 3.60 ERA since the beginning of August, and he’s struck out 75 hitters in 50 innings.

“I'm thankful for the fact that I didn't have any hiccups or any setbacks throughout the process,” Lamet said. “I felt stronger and stronger with every start.”

Make no mistake, there are still question marks surrounding Lamet. His command issues are less pronounced than they were in July, but they still exist. Plus, Lamet has struggled to put away lefties like he does righties. On Wednesday, Joc Pederson took him deep twice.

When Lamet struggles, it’s almost always because he can’t quite locate his fastball. All three home runs Lamet allowed came on heaters that caught too much plate.

“It’s just about being more consistent in the strike zone,” Lamet said. “If I get a fastball called down, make sure that I’m not missing up. I’m just refining my game more than anything else and working on those things to make sure I’m executing my pitches.”

Lamet finished with a 4.07 ERA and a 3.92 FIP this year, while striking out nearly 13 hitters per nine innings. Based on his performance over the last nine starts, he is an obvious favorite for a spot in the rotation next spring. But he’ll face serious competition.

The Padres are expected to add at least one starting pitcher this winter. Fellow Tommy John graduate Garrett Richards will join the fray full-time, and top prospect MacKenzie Gore will compete for a rotation spot, too. Clearly, Lamet has work to do before he secures his roster spot.

“He’s definitely in the mix,” said interim manager Rod Barajas. “You’ve seen what he’s capable of doing when he’s on. We think he’s going to be on more consistently as time goes on. His punchout rate right now is around 33 or 34 percent. Those types of guys usually find their way into a rotation.”

With one caveat.

“First and foremost,” Lamet said, “it’s about staying strong, staying healthy, making sure my body’s in a good place.”

So far, so good.

Myers exits early
Padres outfielder Wil Myers exited Wednesday’s game early after feeling lightheaded following a first-to-home sprint in the bottom of the first inning.

Three days ago, Myers experienced a fainting episode at Kirby Yates’ charity event and was taken to the hospital. He went through a series of tests and labs on Monday, all of which showed he was healthy.

Still, the Padres gave Myers Tuesday night off, and they weren’t taking any chances on Wednesday.

“It could’ve been normal for all I know,” Myers said. “But given the circumstances and what happened a couple days ago, it was just more of a precaution. … It was just some dizziness after that first-to-home on [Francisco] Mejía’s double. I think it was more about just exerting that energy for the first time since the episode. ”

Myers said he felt fine a few minutes after the incident. Team doctors were on hand Wednesday night, and they ran tests, which Myers said “came back normal.” He was optimistic he’d be available to play on Thursday, but Barajas noted that Myers’ status was unclear.

“With the episode Sunday, we’re going to be safe,” Barajas said.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.