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Meet The New Guy: Dinelson Lamet

A few years ago, this dude was the next big thing.

Update 8/7/23: Dinelson Lamet was added to the 40-man roster called up to the Red Sox. Richard Bleier appears to be headed out to make room.

Who is he and where did he come from?

He’s Dinelson Lamet, and the Red Sox just picked him up off the scrap heap after he was released by the Colorado Rockies.

What position does he play?

He started his big league career and had his most success as a starting pitcher. But, for reasons we’ll get into below, he’s been in the bullpen for a while and probably will be for the foreseeable future.

Is he any good?

If you had asked me this in August 2020 I would have finished sanitizing my Fresh Direct order, taken a batch of face masks out of the dryer, declined to shake your hand, and then said: “Dude, you have no idea — Dinelson Lamet is sooooo freaking good!”

Lamet was one of the stars of the bizarro COVID season, taking the league by storm with a 201 ERA+ and 93 strikeouts over 12 starts for the San Diego Padres. What made him so fun was that he did it all with just two pitches: a darting, 100 MPH fastball and an unhittable frisbee slider:

He looked like he was going to anchor the Padres rotation for years to come.

The problem is that 2020 was just a healthy blimp in what has otherwise been a career devastated by injuries right from the very start. Just as he was poised to be the Padres Opening Day starter in 2018, Lamet tore his UCL and underwent Tommy John. He came back halfway through 2019, had that transcendent 2020 season, and then went down with more UCL and forearm issues in 2021. This is where his time in the bullpen began, as the Padres tried unsuccessfully to work him back to effectiveness over the next season-and-a-half, before trading him to the Brewers for Josh Hader, only for Milwaukee to DFA him a few days later due to some roster juggling.

The Rockies picked him up off waivers and tried him out in the bullpen, but he simply hasn’t been able to recover his stuff. His slider, which yielded a batting average of just .080 in 2020, has been particularly rough. In 25.2 innings of relief work this year, batters have hit .309 with 4 homers off it.

But! There are reports that Pedro Martinez himself was instrumental in bringing Lamet to the Sox, and that Dave Bush and the pitching development team think they can fix him. We’ll see.

What’s he doing in his picture up there?

Making a baseball levitate with his mind, because there was a time when he could literally make a baseball do anything.

Show me a cool highlight.

You need more than those Pitching Ninja gifs above? Fine, here he is dueling with Clayton Kershaw in front of cardboard fans:

What’s his role on the 2023 Boston Red Sox?

Dinelson Lamet is the very definition of a low-risk flier. Maybe they figure something out in Worcester, he makes some appearances out of the bullpen down the stretch, sticks on the 40-man, and comes back next Spring, possibly with the idea of stretching back out as a starter. More likely, he pitches fewer than 5 games for the Red Sox for his entire career. Only time (and Pedro) will tell.

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