The two right-handers were meant to sit at the front of the San Diego rotation in the postseason. Instead, both suffered injuries in the final week of the regular season that will keep them out through at least the first round.
Clevinger (right elbow impingement) received a cortisone injection and threw a bullpen session on Tuesday. Lamet (right biceps tightness) has yet to throw a bullpen, but he played "aggressive catch" at 120 feet on Monday and reported feeling OK.
Ultimately, the timing of those injuries was too great a burden. It's still possible they pitch in October if the Padres beat the Cardinals. (The club hasn't ruled anything out.) But neither of the two were fully healthy in time to pitch this week -- and the Padres weren't taking any chances.
“We just made the decision for them basically for this series,” said Padres general manager A.J. Preller. “Both for the short-term and the long-term, the best thing was not to put them on the roster. We have a lot of faith in our other guys, in our other pitchers and players. We’ll take the weekend and re-evaluate where they’re at if we’re able to advance to the next round.”
Both Preller and manager Jayce Tingler noted that Game 3 would be “all hands on deck” but that the looming prospect of a third and decisive game will not impact the team’s pitching decisions in Games 1 and 2.
Morejon isn't the only option to start Game 3. Another is right-hander Garrett Richards, who moved to the bullpen in early September. But if there’s a Game 3, it seems most likely that the Padres would piece together innings from a relief corps that has been one of the best in baseball since mid-August.
“Everybody’s an option,” Preller said. “It legitimately will be, we get to Friday, we’ll see how the first two games went, see who we used, see who we needed to use, see how the lineups are stacking up and then make a decision. At this point, pretty much everybody on the 14-man staff that we put together, the message to all those guys is: 'Be ready.'”
It’s undoubtedly a huge setback that San Diego’s top two starters won’t be available for the franchise’s first postseason series in 14 years. But the Padres are by no means a one-dimensional roster. By most metrics, they own a top-five offense, and their bullpen has been a force.
“We know those guys are doing everything they can to get back on the field with us,” said first baseman Eric Hosmer. “But offensively, we understand it’s going to be on us to pick those guys up. We understand our rotation is a little short-handed right now, but that’s what good teams do. They pick each other up.”
Here's the roster in full:
Pitchers (14): Chris Paddack, Zach Davies, Trevor Rosenthal, Drew Pomeranz, Emilio Pagán, Matt Strahm, Tim Hill, Garrett Richards, Pierce Johnson, Adrian Morejon, Dan Altavilla, Austin Adams, Craig Stammen, Luis Patiño
Catchers (3): Austin Nola, Jason Castro, Luis Campusano
Infielders (7): Eric Hosmer, Mitch Moreland, Jake Cronenworth, Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Greg Garcia, Jorge Mateo
Outfielders (4): Trent Grisham, Wil Myers, Jurickson Profar, Tommy Pham
The Padres also announced the additional 12 players in their 40-man postseason player pool:
• RHP (5): Michel Baez, Mike Clevinger, Dinelson Lamet, Luis Perdomo, Taylor Williams
• LHP (3): José Castillo, MacKenzie Gore, Ryan Weathers
• C (2): Francisco Mejía, Webster Rivas
• OF (2): Greg Allen, Jorge Oña