The Orioles have used the Rule 5 draft to find talent. This year, they hope they’ve found a pitcher with staying power in 6-foot-8 Tyler Wells, who was one of two selections in last December’s Rule 5 draft.
Right-hander Mac Sceroler was the other pick and is on the 10-day injured list because of tendinitis in his right shoulder.
Wells, who allowed one run three hits in two innings on Friday night against the Nationals, has become an asset for manager Brandon Hyde.
“Really impressed with Tyler right now,” Hyde said. “This is a guy who didn’t pitch for a couple of years, had a couple of major issues, hadn’t pitched above Double-A and really is holding his own in the big leagues with no Triple-A experience.”
Wells has a 5.14 ERA in 21 innings. Wells is able to work multiple innings, which is valuable to a team with an overworked bullpen. In seven of his 12 outings, Wells has worked at least two innings.
“He’s pitched better than his numbers show,” Hyde said. “He picked us up [on Friday night] going two innings, saved me from using another reliever. I think he’s getting a lot of valuable experience.”
Wells hasn’t been put in close games. Only once, in his major league debut on April 4th when the Orioles beat Boston, 11-3, has he pitched in an Orioles win. He usually comes in after a short start and attempts to keep the game from becoming more lopsided.
“Every single day it gets better,” Wells said. “There’s a lot of learning experiences that come along with being a rookie. In those 20 innings, you learn so much about yourself. You learn so much about your stuff, a lot about the hitters.
“Each and every time I go out there, confidence grows and I learn more about myself.”
Wells said that pitching in spring training helped convince him he could be a major league pitcher. He points to two scoreless innings on March 20th against the New York Yankees, when he struck out three.
“You sit there and you’re facing the heart of the lineup,” Wells said. “You’re really pushing and building the confidence in yourself. At every single point in the season, I never felt like I haven’t belonged here. Guys made me feel extremely welcome. I’m trying to build confidence within the coaching staff, to be able to put me in higher-leverage situations.”
Wells, who had Tommy John surgery in 2019 and didn’t pitch last season, has struck out 26 while walking seven in those 21 innings. Only Adam Plutko has thrown more innings in relief.
“I think the guy’s got big-time confidence,” Hyde said. “His stuff has ticked up. I think you’re seeing command of his offspeed stuff. The slider, the changeup improved, which really was a question for me in spring training.
“The guy’s fastball is 93-96 [mph] … It’s kind of a tough angle for the hitter,” Hyde said, referring to Wells’ height.
Wells has started to rely more on his changeup.
“My changeup used to be my fourth-best pitch,” Wells said. “A lot of that came from the lack of actually throwing it. When I got Tommy John surgery, one of the big things that I focused on and dedicated that rehab to was the health of my arm and developing a better changeup.”
During last year’s down time, Wells worked on the changeup.
“I was really dedicated to making it a better pitch,” Wells said. “I think I’m seeing the fruits of that labor now.”
Wells has allowed six home runs, the most by an Oriole reliever.
“It’s like a bad pitch every time out that’s hurt him,” Hyde said. “I don’t know if he’s going to be a bullpen guy or a starter at this point. I think we’re going to find that out during the course of the season.”