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Lamet flashes arsenal in strong second start

Righty aiming to build off rookie campaign, lock up rotation spot
Special to MLB.com

PEORIA, Ariz. -- San Diego Padres right-hander Dinelson Lamet isn't yet penned into the club's starting rotation. His name may be written in pencil, however, particularly if he continues to put together performances this spring like the one he had in a 10-3 Padres loss to the D-backs on Monday night.

Lamet tossed three one-run innings, limiting Arizona to just two hits and two walks while striking out a pair. He regularly found the zone with his fastball, which hovered around 94 mph, and his slider, throwing strikes on all but 19 of his 47 pitches -- with eight of those balls coming when he walked Ketel Marte twice on eight pitches.

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- San Diego Padres right-hander Dinelson Lamet isn't yet penned into the club's starting rotation. His name may be written in pencil, however, particularly if he continues to put together performances this spring like the one he had in a 10-3 Padres loss to the D-backs on Monday night.

Lamet tossed three one-run innings, limiting Arizona to just two hits and two walks while striking out a pair. He regularly found the zone with his fastball, which hovered around 94 mph, and his slider, throwing strikes on all but 19 of his 47 pitches -- with eight of those balls coming when he walked Ketel Marte twice on eight pitches.

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"I thought his overall stuff was really good," Padres manager Andy Green said. "He couldn't quite command the curveball quite the way he can. ...The fastball and slider were still dominant, like they always are. I think as he continues to grow comfortable with the curveball, it's going to be a very effective pitch for him."

Save for a sharply hit Rey Fuentes triple into the gap in right-center, Lamet avoided hard contact and excelled off his fastball-slider combination to flash some of the potential the 25-year-old could provide to a rotation full of unknowns behind projected starters Clayton Richard and Bryan Mitchell.

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The potentially devastating fastball-slider combination could be Lamet's key to beating out the collection of arms vying for those final three spots. The rookie right-hander averaged 95 mph on his four-seam fastball last season, according to Statcast™, with the slider at 85.6 mph serving as an elite change-of-pace pitch with strong horizontal movement. He threw his slider 36.64 percent of the time, per Statcast™, drawing swings-and-misses 19.2 percent on that pitch, while yielding a hit just 3.5 percent of the time.

The slider proved effective again on Monday, resulting in swinging strikes on both of Lamet's punchouts, including a strikeout of Steven Souza Jr. to wrap up his evening. His stuff played up, drawing eight whiffs over those three innings of work.

Beyond the slider, Green noted Lamet's changeup and curveball have been points of emphasis in providing ample secondary stuff behind the fastball. Green added that he saw Lamet throw around 10 non-fastball/slider pitches, including a changeup that Fuentes rocked for a triple.

"To me, it's just command the curveball," Green said. "Drop it in. That's going to be a separator for him."

Lamet is building off his first stint in the Majors in 2017, going 7-8 with a 4.57 ERA in 21 starts, including striking out eight and allowing just a run in his Major League debut against the Mets on May 25. Even with some noted rookie bumps, including consecutive June outings in which he allowed seven earned runs, Lamet made an impression. He excelled in August, putting together his best month with a 2.54 ERA and a 3.97 FIP.

"I think a lot of it's building off last year, and going into the offseason, making sure I was prepared over anything else," Lamet said Monday. "I knew that I could go into the offseason, work hard and get that preparation and then come in and compete, like everyone else does. Everybody here is fighting for a spot. I know that if I come in prepared, I can do that, too." 

A spot in the Padres' rotation could be within reach this season.

"I always prepare as if I'm competing for the No. 1 spot in the rotation, but at the same time, the other stuff, I don't control," Lamet said. "It could be the No. 1 guy, it could be the long guy, it could be whatever. The only thing I can do is go out there and work as if I'm going for the No. 1 spot." 

Fabian Ardaya is a contributor to MLB.com.

San Diego Padres, Dinelson Lamet