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Recovered pitchers face off for Padres, Marlins

Thu Jul 18 1:32am ET

Officially, the Miami Marlins say they have no intention of trading left-handed starter Caleb Smith.

However, the rumors are out there. They were percolating even when Smith was out from June 7 to July 5 due to an inflamed left hip. And the results of his two starts since his return have done nothing to temper the interest.

Another round of rumors are likely to stir Thursday when Smith makes his 15th start of the season in an interesting pitching matchup.

Smith (5-4, 3.46 ERA) will be paired against Padres right-hander Dinelson Lamet (0-2, 6.30).

This will be the third start for each since coming off the injured list. Smith missed a month, but Lamet hadn't pitched in a major league game since the end of 2017. He had been out since having Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2018.

Smith is 2-0 in his two outings since his return, having allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits and six walks with 12 strikeouts in 12 innings. Lamet is 0-2 in his two starts since his July 4 return, having given up seven runs on eight hits and four walks with 14 strikeouts in 10 innings.

Lamet, who also celebrates his 27th birthday Thursday, has primarily been a fastball-slider pitcher since his return, blending in his other pitches slowly during his rehab. But his fastball velocity has run up to 99 mph, a tick up from his pre-Tommy John days.

"Lamet's stuff is there," Padres manager Andy Green said recently of Lamet. "The control hasn't been. We know it will be. His last bullpen (session) was a step in the right direction. Commanding the fastball is something he has been working on since his surgery. There are days when it has been really good and days when he's fought with it a little bit.

"The stuff is real. The slider is real. He spins the ball incredibly well. As he gets more comfortable getting back on the mound, we're certain everything else will take care of itself."

Lamet looked to be the ace of the Padres' staff when he walked off the mound during his last spring training outing of 2018. He was 7-8 with a 4.57 ERA in 21 starts as a rookie in 2017 with 139 strikeouts in 114 1/3 innings and a .210 opponents' batting average.

He has faced the Marlins once previously, when he allowed one run in six innings during a no-decision in August 2017.

Smith, who turns 28 on July 28, has 94 strikeouts and 26 walks in 78 innings this season. He owns a 1.038 WHIP, a .197 opponents' batting average and a .267 opponents' on-base percentage.

Smith will be making his second start against the Padres this season and the fourth of his career. He has a 2-1 lifetime record against the Padres with a 1.56 ERA, a 0.923 WHIP and a .180 OBP, although he suffered the loss in his start at Petco Park on May 31 -- giving up two runs on three hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in five innings.

"I feel like I can throw strikes whenever I want to," Smith said recently. "I can throw all my pitches for strikes."

The question is what team he might be throwing them for come two weeks from now.

--Field Level Media

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