More than ever before, MLB is filled with top pitchers, and the Chicago White Sox and San Diego Padres have lots of those.
Both of them, however, will likely disappoint those who expect them to perform like in 2020.
2 Pitchers Who Are Bound To Disappoint This Season
Dinelson Lamet, San Diego Padres
Lamet was one of the revelations of the 2020 season, and his pitching prowess helped the San Diego Padres secure their ticket to postseason baseball.
Lamet had a 2.09 ERA and a 2.48 Fielding Independent Pitching, or FIP, in 69.0 innings and 12 starts with the Friars.
The talented right-hander struck out a whopping 34.8% of the batters he faced while walking only 7.5% of them, and both numbers were incredibly impressive.
However, his chances of repeating such a performance are slim, not because he lacks talent (he doesn’t) but because his elbow is injured.
The pitcher said in February that doctors told him he could’ve torn a ligament and required another Tommy John surgery, had he continued pitching last September.
In the end, he was shut down late last season with a biceps/elbow injury and received a platelet-rich plasma injection in October.
It is evident that Lamet’s pitching arm is not in the best of shapes, yet he insists he is 100%.
Lamet is a little behind in spring training, as the Padres try to bring him along slowly to make sure his arm can hold up.
Yet, as a hurler that relies on so many sliders per outing, Dinelson Lamet is at a higher risk of sustaining an elbow injury that would take him out of action for a long time.
Dinelson Lamet dominated with (and relied on) his slider in ways we've pretty much never seen before.
— Matt Kelly (@mattkellyMLB) February 28, 2021
Even if his arm does hold up, he faces an uphill battle replicating the numbers he put in 2020, especially knowing that sliders are high-stress pitches for his elbow.
Dallas Keuchel, Chicago White Sox
The veteran southpaw is a very good pitcher, and was excellent for the up-and-coming Chicago White Sox in 2020.
He finished the year with a 1.99 ERA in 63.1 innings, but his FIP was much higher, at 3.08.
That FIP wasn’t bad at all, but given that Keuchel is already 33 years old and is losing velocity, things could start going downhill pretty soon.
During his last campaign, the lefty averaged 88.8 mph with his four-seam fastball and 85.1 mph with his cutter, both career-lows.
He doesn’t really count on velocity to succeed, but every pitcher needs at least some to keep hitters honest and mess with their timing.
The drop in velocity is concerning because it happened for the third straight season.
Additionally, and to make matters worse, the veteran southpaw struck out 5.97 hitters per nine frames, by far his lowest mark since he was a rookie.
He also allowed an abnormally low number of home runs:
100 pitchers tossed at least 44 innings this season.
Of those 100 pitchers, Dallas Keuchel was:
93rd in K/9IP (5.97)
1st in HR/9IP (0.28)
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) September 30, 2020
This is not to say that Keuchel can’t be a solid rotation piece for the White Sox as they expect to contend and make a deep playoff run.
However, expecting a sub-2.00 ERA again would be irresponsible, as his metrics and underlying stats suggest that he is unlikely to be under 4.00 if he doesn’t miss more bats.