Lamet was optioned to Triple-A El Paso on Friday, Jeff Sanders of The San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Lamet allowed runs in only one of his first five appearances this season, but he'll head to the minors after giving up eight earned runs over three frames in his past five outings. Robinson Cano was added to the major-league roster in a corresponding move.
Lamet allowed three runs on one hit and two walks over two-thirds of an inning in Saturday's loss to Miami. The right-hander had trouble finding the plate in the outing, throwing only 11 of 24 pitches for strikes and walking two batters. He has given up at least one earned run in three of his past four appearances to push his season ERA to 8.59. Once a promising starter, Lamet's stock has cratered due to injury, and his first campaign as a full-time reliever has yet to pan out as the Padres had hoped.
Lamet has made one relief appearance across the Padres' first five games, retiring the lone batter he faced en route to earning a hold in San Diego's April 8 win over Arizona. The Padres' decision to trade away starter Chris Paddack on Opening Day didn't change Lamet's outlook, as the 29-year-old is still beginning the season in a relief role. Lamet has thrown just one pitch so far this season, but Jeff Sanders of The San Diego Union-Tribune relayed that the right-hander threw at least a couple dozen of pitches while warming up in the bullpen in each of the last three contests. Manager Bob Melvin acknowledged after Monday's 4-2 win over the Giants that he needed to vary his reliever usage a bit, so it's possible that Lamet could gain some traction in a setup role in front of closer Taylor Rogers in the coming days.
Lamet is expected to open the season in the bullpen, though the Padres haven't officially decided on his role, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com reports. Lamet mostly worked in relief last season with nine starts in 22 appearances, and he finished with a 4.40 ERA, 1.49 WHIP and 57:22 K:BB across 47 innings. The right-hander was electric as a starter during 2020 with a 2.09 ERA and 93:20 K:BB in 12 starts, but he then had four stints on the injured list last season with elbow issues. A move to the bullpen could help keep Lamet healthy, and his stuff would play well as a closer. However, the 29-year-old, who rarely worked in relief prior to 2021, would need to get acclimated to regularly pitching out of the bullpen before taking on a high-leverage role, so he's unlikely to be a factor in the late innings until later in the season should the Friars opt to utilize him that way.
Lamet signed a one-year, $4.775 million contract with the Padres on Tuesday, avoiding arbitration, Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Lamet will more than triple his salary despite the fact that he's coming off an injury-filled season where he was less than dominant. In nine starts and 13 relief appearances, he posted a mediocre 4.40 ERA, though his 27.3 percent strikeout rate was at least still strong.
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