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Wednesday morning, the Padres announced that left-handed pitcher Ryan Weathers had been optioned to Triple-A with righty James Norwood being called up in a corresponding move.

On the surface level, this might raise a few eyebrows. After all, Weathers has a 2.47 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in his 47 1/3 innings this season and he's shown the ability to succeed as a starter or in long relief. 

With Dinelson Lamet starting to work deeper into games as the Padres ease him back from an elbow injury, the five-man rotation is full with Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, Chris Paddack and Lamet. Earlier this week, the talk from San Diego was that Weathers would move to the bullpen and be used as the long man. He threw three innings Monday in said capacity. 

Instead, there's been a change of course. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports the Padres believe Weathers will "benefit from being a regular starter in the minor leagues." 

That's certainly long been the line of thinking in Major League Baseball, which is to say jerking a pitcher back and forth between the rotation and bullpen could end up being bad for his development. This isn't late-career Terry Mulholland. It's a 21-year-old pitcher who was taken in the 2018 draft out of high school. 

The Padres stretching out Weathers in the minors raises questions, too, though. 

In 2018, Weathers had his high school season and then threw 18 1/3 professional innings. In 2019, he worked 96 innings with Class A Fort Wayne. We can't be sure about his workload at the alternate site last season before his 1 1/3 playoff innings, but surely he didn't get up into triple digits worth of competitive innings. 

That means so far this season, Weathers is just about halfway to his professional season high. We're seeing veteran pitchers drop left and right this season and I firmly believe the oddball 2020 season has a lot to do with that. Given that and Weathers' workload to this point, how much higher do the Padres want to go with such a promising, young arm? 

The task is to balance their high hopes for the 2021 season with Weathers' long-term prospects. They want him stretched out in case one of their five big-league starters gets hurt but also need to monitor that workload. 

Meanwhile, the Padres have lost 12 of 16 and have fallen to five games back in the NL West.