The club is keeping a long-term view with Weathers. With Dinelson Lamet fully built up to a starter’s workload and the team’s decision to scrap its six-man rotation, there was no longer a rotation spot for Weathers, who was recently moved to the bullpen.
But Weathers has been excellent in his new role as well. Entering play Wednesday, he was the only pitcher in the Majors with a sub-3.00 ERA in at least six appearances as both a starter and a reliever. In 14 total outings, Weathers owns a 2.47 ERA.
The Padres plan to use Weathers as a starter at El Paso, likely spacing out his starts a bit to ease his burden.
“He’s going to be a part of what we’ve got going forward,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. “Right now we made the decision to stay in turn, get us starts, get his bullpens in between starts, and continue to build and continue to go.”
The Padres’ lack of length and left-handers in their bullpen is glaring, but that didn’t impact Wednesday’s decision. They envision Weathers playing an important role on their pitching staff come September and October. San Diego would like to keep him fresh for it. He had already missed time earlier this season with symptoms of dead arm and arm fatigue.
Then again, if Weathers is going to pitch at Triple-A El Paso, as Tingler said, it’s worth wondering why the Padres wouldn’t simply have him pitch in the big leagues. He’s been one of their best pitchers this season, and he clearly has only has so many innings to throw. (He’s never reached 100 in a season.)
“The main thing is, we believe he’s a starting pitcher,” Tingler said. “… The importance of developing starting pitching, not only for this year, but also for the future as well. Ultimately that’s what we see Ryan as.”
In June 2019, the Padres did something similar with then-rookie right-hander Chris Paddack, optioning him for 10 days to help limit his innings. Weathers, who has thrown 47 1/3 innings this season, hasn’t quite shouldered the workload that Paddack had in ’19. Then again, San Diego was also content with shutting Paddack down in mid-September. The same won’t be true about Weathers, who must now spend at least 10 days in the Minor Leagues before he can be recalled.
As for Norwood, he arrived in an April trade with the Cubs that sent fellow righty prospect Dauris Valdez to Chicago. In 24 career big league appearances, Norwood owns a 4.37 ERA, after holding the Rockies scoreless for two-thirds of an inning on Wednesday. Norwood had posted a 4.24 ERA at El Paso.