Dinelson Lamet was one of the best pitchers in the National League in 2020, pitching to a career low 2.09 ERA, which was good enough for a fourth place finish in the Cy Young voting. Here is some of his best work from a couple seasons ago:
However, he wasn’t able to replicate that performance in 2021. Lamet doubled his ERA (4.40) and had a career-high WHIP (1.489) this season.
He didn’t start his season until April 21 because he was recovering from a biceps injury. In his first start, he exited after two innings of work due to a forearm injury that would keep him sidelined for a few weeks. In late June, Lamet hurt his forearm again, putting him on the IL through the All-Star break.
When Lamet returned, he was able to stay healthy the rest of the year in the bullpen. That’s where you should expect to see Lamet next season if the Padres don’t designate him for assignment. I know that DFAing Lamet doesn’t seem like it’s a realistic scenario but you could make the argument that he isn’t worth $5+ million in arbitration when there’s no guarantee he’s going to be healthy for the whole season.
It would be one thing if Lamet pitched this year like he did in 2020. Then the Padres could justifiably take that risk and hope Lamet magically stays healthy. But he obviously didn’t. As a starter, Lamet owned a 3.99 ERA in nine starts and as a reliever, it was 5.09 in 13 games. There are other younger relievers on cheaper contracts, such as Reiss Knehr ($570,500) and Nabil Crismatt ($585,000), that put up similar numbers and are more of a sure bet to be on the field in 2022.