San Diego Padres manager Jayce Tingler will be happy to see both starting pitchers Wednesday afternoon as the visiting Milwaukee Brewers shoot for a three-game sweep.
Right-hander Dinelson Lamet will make his 2021 debut for the Padres, and right-hander Adrian Houser (1-2, 3.14 ERA) will start forthe Brewers.
It's easy to understand why Tingler is happy to see Lamet.
The 6-foot-3, 28-year-old from the Dominican Republic placed fourth last season in the National League Cy Young Award voting. He had a 3-1 record in 12 starts with a 2.09 ERA, a 0.855 WHIP and a .161 opponents' batting average. Lamet struck out 93 and walked 20 in 69 innings.
Lamet helped pitch the Padres into the playoffs, but he never got to pitch in the postseason. He left his final regular-season start clutching the elbow that underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018.
Lamet rehabbed the elbow using plasma therapy, and he was brought along slowly in spring training. When the regular season opened, Lamet remained at the alternate training site on the injured list.
Now he's ready. And the Padres are desperate for his return. The Padres confirmed Tuesday that Adrian Morejon, who entered the season as their No. 5 starter, had Tommy John surgery, eliminating the left-hander for the rest of 2021. Chris Paddack is struggling, and the Padres will limit the innings worked by Ryan Weathers.
Even so, Tingler is quick to point out that Lamet is back because he's ready to be back, not because the Padres need him.
"We were more concerned with how Lamet was feeling," Tingler said. "We've been more focused on staying disciplined with Lamet. It's worked out well, but was not designed this way."
Tingler said Lamet will slip into a six-man rotation this week as the Padres complete a 17-games-in-17-days run with four games against the division-rival Dodgers in Los Angeles.
As for Lamet, he is eager to get going -- even if he's starting with a 75- to 80-pitch limit.
"There's no limit for me (mentally)," Lamet said. "That was the point of having that wait time, to just be able to come back without any sort of doubt. I'm going out there to compete and I'm giving it 100 percent. I'm going after guys, which I like to do and win a game."
Tingler added, "We're all stoked Lamet is back. For me, his success is going in pitching and coming out healthy."
And why is Tingler happy to see Houser? It's his 3.14 ERA.
For the first time since last Thursday -- and for the only time in a nine-game stretch that continues until Saturday -- the Padres will be facing a pitcher with an ERA higher than 2.42. The Padres have scored one run on eight hits in the first two games of the series started by Milwaukee's Brandon Woodruff (1.96) and Corbin Burnes (0.37).
However, Houser could be something of a Trojan Horse.
"When the sinker is working, Adrian is strong," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He pitches smart. He knows how to navigate a lineup."
Houser had a 5.30 ERA last season with a 1.500 WHIP. His career ERA is 4.06. In three starts this season, Houser has worked 14 1/3 innings, allowing six runs (five earned) on 15 hits and seven walks with 10 strikeouts for a 1.535 WHIP.
Houser is 0-1 with a 2.16 ERA in two career games (one start) versus the Padres. Lamet is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts against the Brewers.
--Field Level Media