In his short time in the major leagues, Peter Lambert has compiled some interesting numbers.
The Rockies’ right-hander made his major league debut on June 6, 2019, at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. At 22 years and 49 days old, he was the third-youngest starting pitcher in franchise history to make his debut.
He pitched a seven-inning, four-hit gem that night as the Rockies beat the Cubs, 3-1. He set a Rockies record by striking out nine in his debut.
But the biggest number in his career is 735.
When he takes the mound Friday night at Coors Field to face the Giants, it will have been that many days since his last major-league start.
“It’s been a long road back, for sure,” Lambert said Wednesday afternoon after manager Bud Black made the announcement. “I haven’t pitched in the majors since 2019. That’s a long, long time.”
Lambert underwent Tommy John surgery on July 21, 2020, joining the ever-growing list of young pitchers who’ve had to have their elbow repaired. Like everyone else, Lambert had to ride the TJ roller coaster.
“Some days you would feel really good and then the next day your elbow would feel not quite right,” the 24-year-old Lambert said.
But he had an advantage. His older brother, Jimmy, 26, underwent Tommy John surgery in June 2019, in his fourth season in the Chicago White Sox minor league system.
“Going through the rehab process, it was good to have somebody as close as him, who had gone through the same process,” Peter Lambert said. “He kind of guided me through it.
“He would let me know, ‘Man, there are days when it’s not going to feel good. Just be patient. Trust the process.’ ”
All of that patience has added up to a very sweet September for the Lambert brothers.
On Sept. 7, more than five years after getting drafted by the White Sox, Jimmy Lambert picked up his first major-league win, pitching a career-high five innings of one-run ball in Chicago’s 6-3 victory over Oakland. He was rewarded with a postgame beer shower.
“I didn’t know I’d ever get my first major league win,” he admitted to reporters after the game.
Friday, his kid brother gets his September moment.
“This is really the best-case scenario, to get few starts before the end of the year,” Peter Lambert said. “This is what we were shooting for when this first happened.”
The right-hander remains a work in progress, to be sure. In 2019, he went 3-7 with a 7.25 ERA in 19 starts. The last time he was on a major-league mound, the Dodgers clubbed him for five runs on six hits in three innings.
Lambert’s first big step this season was returning to the mound for the first time on Aug. 18 for Class-A Advanced Spokane. He pitched two scoreless innings in his first rehab assignment.
Indians manager Scott Little said it was “great to see” the Rockies’ former second-round pick pitch in a game following a long rehabilitation from his elbow injury.
“You don’t really have many expectations for a guy who hadn’t pitched in so long, but I know he’s always been a competitor,” Little said at the time. “His stuff’s getting better and better as he gets stronger. That was good to see, and I tip my hat to him that he’s gotten back to where he is. He did well.”
Lambert made seven overall appearances during his rehab assignment, posting a 3.94 ERA and 1.38 WHIP over 16 innings. In his four starts at Spokane, Lambert was understandably rusty, posting a 5.87 ERA in 7 2/3 innings.
He was much better at Double-A Hartford, putting up a 3.18 ERA in two starts with the Yard Goats, allowing five hits, two runs and striking out nine over 5 2/3 innings.
He started for Triple-A Albuquerque last Thursday, allowing two hits and hitting a batter in 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
Joe’s done. As expected, outfielder and first baseman Connor Joe’s season is over. Black said that Joe’s strained right hamstring has not healed enough to allow him to play in the final stretch of the season.
“All I could ask for this year, after 2020, was to show what I could do at the big-league level,” said Joe, who missed the 2020 season as he battled testicular cancer. “I’m grateful for the opportunity the Rockies gave me and I do feel like I maximized the chance I was given.”
After spending much of the early part of the season at Triple-A, Joe blossomed with the Rockies after his third call-up on July 20, finishing the season slashing .285/.379./.469 with eight home runs, nine doubles and 35 RBIs in 63 games. He’s put himself in a position to compete for the starting job in left field next season.
“He really showed up well,” Black said. “It was the quality of the at-bat and do the things were are looking from a lot of our players. Statistically, he’s performed. this was good for him to get this chance to play and he made the most of it.”
Black added the Joe should be fully healed in three or four weeks and will be able to have a full offseason of workouts.
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