Walking The Tight Rope With Dinelson Lamet by Michael Simione December 14, 2020 Stability is important in fantasy baseball, especially when it involves early-round picks. When we talk stability it can mean two things. It can mean stability of health or stability of skill set. With your early-round picks you of course want players with very few holes in their skills and players who stay on the field. I now present you with someone who teeters on a tight rope with both health and skill set: Dinelson Lamet. Feeding off his late surge in 2019 Lamet came into 2020 like a tiger eyeing down its prey. He pounced on the competition lighting a fire from within and produced a phenomenal 2.09 ERA, .086 WHIP, and 27 K-BB%. A fantastic season for sure. He was able to have an elite season by changing his pitch mix and throwing his slider over 50% of the time. A true Patrick Corbin blueprint. Lamet’s slider could arguably be called the best pitch in baseball. Last season it produced a .197 wOBAcon, 23 SwStr%, and 19.7 pVAL. It induced weak contact, created whiffs, and was utilized to perfection. It was utilized so well that his 19.7 pVAL was the highest of any pitch in baseball. The next closest was Marco Gonzales fastball which had a 14.3 pVAL (love me some Marco). Overall a great pitch. One small flaw to point out about Lamet’s slider is his command. All over the place. It looks like he wants to push it low and away but he was only able to achieve that 40% of the time, a percentage that ranks second-worst in the league. What’s crazy is that even when he leaves it in the heart of the plate it still produces great results. Opposing hitters only had a .068 ISO and .103 wOBA against it. Compare that to Kenta Maeda’s slider which had a .524 ISO and .456 wOBA when left in the same location. That is clearly a testament as to how good his slider is that even when he misses, it doesn’t matter. I’m curious as to if that can continue. Next up is his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 37% of the time. Meaning his slider and fastball make up for 91% of his pitches, making him a two-pitch pitcher (problem number one). The fastball took some big strides this year compared to last season. Dinelson Lamet’s Fastball Year MPH Vertical Movement wOBAcon ISO wRC+ 2019 95.9 15.4 0.481 0.293 164 2020 97.0 17.0 0.410 0.154 107 Difference 1.1 1.6 -0.071 -0.139 -57 This shows you the chain reaction of Lamet’s four-seam development. The velocity rose over one mile per hour causing an uptick in vertical movement. Because of the increased movement hitters weren’t able to jump on it like the season before. Although the overall 2020 numbers aren’t exactly great compared to the league average, they were good enough to elevate his game. If you stopped right there everything seems great for Lamet besides the obvious caveat of only having two pitches. Here is the problem with Lamet’s new increased velocity. In the month of August, his fastball averaged 97.2 MPH. In all five of his starts it sat over the 97.0 mark. Come September his fastball average 96.9 MPH. Only two of his five starts did he eclipse 97.0 MPH. The way I interpret this is Lamet knew it was a short season, he knew he could push his velocity and it eventually started to normalize on him. On the chart you can see the massive decline as the season went on. But you see where it climbs back up towards the end of the season? For two starts in September he pushed it back up to 97 MPH and what do you think happens when you push your arm too hard? In his last start of the year Lamet was pulled with bicep tightness. The bicep issue turned into an elbow issue, symptoms of biceps and elbow injuries can show up in similar ways. Since there is no ligament damage the Padres decided to go the PRP (platelet-rich plasma therapy) route. This is a big issue because not only has Lamet needed Tommy John surgery in the past but pitchers who have had PRP injections have ended up needing the surgery anyway. Look no further than his former teammate Garrett Richards. This makes Lamet a major injury risk, but let’s say he takes the shots and it works. How will he be able to push his fastball velocity for an entire season? We have to expect regression on his fastball and when that happens you get the 2019 version of Dinelson Lamet. That leaves you with a 4.07 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 24 K-BB% from your likely SP2. Does taking a player in the first four rounds who is walking on a tight rope sound like someone you’d like to roster? With a current overall ADP of 65 and as the 24th pitcher off the board Dinelson Lamet becomes a spine-chilling acquisition. Reaching the other side is unlikely and falling one way or the other seems evident.