Padres Daily: The Lamet plan; Weathers the storm; Machado’s heady play

Read more at www.sandiegouniontribune.com

Good morning,

The Padres are doing a lot of things right.

The defense has been mostly exceptional, and the offense has done enough (and was helped enough) for us to stop wondering whether they would ever string together “complete” games. They did so more often than not the past eight days and for the first time this season have won six of their past seven games.

My story from yesterday’s 5-3 victory over the Cardinals touched on how it has happened. Read that here.

Bryce Miller wrote a column (here) on the culture that breeds the kind of cohesion in which four players from Triple-A can come up and contribute when a good portion of the team’s core goes on the injured list. Also, here are some words from Jayce Tingler on the subject:

What I want to talk about now is a fascinating situation that we will follow over the next few days and possibly weeks. It could be the kind of thing we look back on and view as one of the significant decisions the Padres made as they navigated this season.

It is about whether Dinelson Lamet continues to pitch out of the bullpen, as he did for two innings yesterday.

At full strength and at his best, there is no doubt he is a starter. He is neither of those things at present, so it makes a lot of sense that the Padres had him relieve Ryan Weathers yesterday and are considering having Lamet work as a reliever at least for a time.

“We’re trying to look big-picture — what’s the best way to keep him healthy and pitching throughout the year?” Jayce Tingler said. “We’ll see how he responds. The next one could be out of the pen, could be a start. … We don’t have the exact answer. Is it best to keep building up and have five days in between or is it best to lighten the volume and get more frequent touches on the mound? We’ll see how this one feels.”

Yesterday was Lamet’s first relief appearance in the majors after 50 starts. He threw more pitches (37) than he had in any game this season — and threw his fastball harder and his slider with more verve.

“It was one of my better moments so far,” said Lamet, who struck out two in a perfect fifth inning before allowing a run in the sixth. “Coming into it I was struggling a little bit. But I also think every outing I’ve had something to build on and I’ve been improving, so I think it was good. … The more innings I’m throwing, the more I’m built up, the more I get to throw my pitches, I’m feeling more confident in everything. I’m more confident in my fastball and slider and mechanics.”

Weathers throwing 69 pitches yesterday and presumably being able to go progressively longer in his coming outings is one reason it makes sense to have Lamet work out of the bullpen. Also, pitchers talk about working in relief changing their approach, and coming in as he did Sunday and throwing hard from the start could serve to bolster Lamet’s confidence in his arm.

Lamet indicated he is eager to return to starting.

“In my mind, it’s to continue on the same schedule as a starter,” he said when asked what is next. “Obviously, it depends on what the team is thinking.”

Tingler committed to Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove starting the next three days against the Rockies.

And with Thursday off, it would seem the Padres could use Lamet out of the bullpen a couple/few times and be set on starters at least the next two times through the rotation. However, Friday begins a run of 20 games in 20 days and the goal could be to have Lamet built up to at least 60 pitches by the end of next week, depending on whether they want Weathers to go one four days rest for the series finale in Milwaukee.

That is all easier said than to actually line up and make work. But this whole thing with Lamet is sort of writing a new manual on how to bring along a pitcher coming off an arm injury or injury scare or whatever it was — and doing it on the fly while trying to win games.

“We … may need him to start Friday (or) Saturday,” Tingler said. “We’re going to stay open-ended. We’re going to do two things — No. 1, what’s best for Lamet and then what’s best for the team. It could be back and forth. It could be go back to starting. We’ll wait and see.”

Gets knocked down, gets up

Weathers yielded as many runs in the first inning yesterday as he had in his first 22 1/3 innings this season.

He allowed a single to Dylan Carlson with one out and a two-run homer to Nolan Arenado with two outs. Yadier Molina then blooped a single to right field and Tyler O’Neill drilled a double off the right field wall that put runners at second and third before Trent Grisham ended the inning with a diving catch on a sinking line drive by Harrison Bader.

After Edmundo Sosa reached on an error to start the second inning, Weathers retired the final nine batters he faced to get through four innings.

Said Tingler: “I loved — that was the first time Weathers got punched a little bit — the way he fought back and ended up pitching and competing.”

Nicely done

Manny Machado prevented a double play near the start of what ended up being a four-run fourth inning.

After leading off the inning by reaching on an error, Machado may have actually been the catalyst to it becoming a four-run inning. He clearly got in Cardinals pitcher Kwang Hyun Kim’s head. Kim was ruffled by the play and immediately gestured to the second base umpire afterward as if to implore him to do something.

“The fourth inning was the worst,” Kim said. “I thought some of the balls that I threw, I thought were strikes, but they were called balls. Mentally I had a hard time in the fourth inning. There was an error. I thought the one on Machado going to second base, that was baserunning interference but it was safe at first base. A lot of things going on in the fourth inning. … Overall, it’s my fault not pitching well that inning. With that base runner interference, I thought it was base running interference and I thought (Cardinals manager Mike) Shildt might come to the field to talk about that with the umpire.”

Shildt didn’t and Kim, who had allowed one hit to that point, went on to walk Tommy Pham, give up a single to Austin Nola and then walk Tucupita Marcano and Ha-seong Kim in successive plate appearances with the bases loaded before being pulled.

As for whether Machado’s evasive tactic was dirty, Adam Jones, one of the more widely respected players of this generation, checked in:

Tidbits

  • Over the past eight games, the Padres have raised their on-base percentage from a season-low .312 to .327, which is fifth highest in the majors.
  • Pham was 1-for-3 with a walk yesterday against the team that drafted him in 2006. Since joining the Padres, Pham is batting .381/.480/.619 in six games against the Cardinals and .206/.312/.262 in 63 games against every other team.
  • Nola is 6-for-13 with two walks and has been hit by three pitches in his past five games. That’s an OBP of .579, by the way.
  • Grisham was gifted a double in the sixth inning when O’Neill came in too far on a line drive directly at him in left field. How much of a gift was it? Grisham jogged for a time between the plate and home as he clearly expected the ball to be caught. Nonetheless, the hit extended his hitting streak to seven games.
  • Ha-seong Kim had not walked since April 10 (67 plate appearances) before doing so twice yesterday.
  • Marcano is 4-for-16 with three walks in six games since being recalled Tuesday. He was 1-for-3 with a walk yesterday. But the best thing he did was start this double play, on which a run scored but the bases were left empty with two outs in the sixth inning:

Getting closer

Perhaps you have noticed how full the sections of seats directly behind home plate are.

According to the Padres, those are among what are now 27 sections open only to people who are fully vaccinated.

Capacity at games at Petco Park will remain slightly more than 15,000 for the rest of this homestand and likely through the next one. The plan is that the game against the Reds on June 17 will be the first one in which the ballpark can be filled.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has set June 15 as the date the state can fully reopen, at the discretion of local governments.

Join us

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That’s it for me today.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Read more at www.sandiegouniontribune.com

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