When the season began, the Orioles had two Rule 5 pitchers, right-handers Mac Sceroler and Tyler Wells. Sceroler missed time because of right shoulder tendinitis, returned on June 8th and was designated for assignment on Tuesday after pitching poorly.
In five games, Sceroler had a 14.90 ERA. He allowed 15 runs, 12 earned, in 7 2/3 innings and gave up six home runs.
The Orioles drafted Sceroler from Cincinnati, where he pitched in High-A in 2019.
“It’s tough to evaluate when he didn’t have the regular workload out on the mound,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s also tough to pitch in the Florida State League a couple of years ago and then pitch in the big leagues.
“I really like his stuff. I think he’s got starter’s stuff. We held on to him as long as we possibly could because he’s got big upside and he’s going to be a good major league pitcher. It was hard to evaluate because of the usage and him going [on the injured for almost two months]. I wish him the best of luck.”
Sceroler and Wells, who was drafted from Minnesota, grew close because of their shared experience.
“Me and him spent a lot of time together,” Wells said. “Me and him helped each other through spring training. We got this far. I certainly doubt that that’s going to be the last that we see of him. I think that he’ll be in the big leagues again. He’s got the stuff.
“I think that he learned a lot … I’m still learning a lot. I’m always here for him. I’m always here to talk to him and if he ever needs anything, especially out on the baseball field … I think it’s going to provide a good opportunity for him to get back to where he was in 2019. He showed me video. We talked about how he felt back then. He was lights out. He was a phenomenal pitcher.”
Wells has thrown 33 2/3 innings, more than any other reliever other than Adam Plutko, and he’s 2-0 with a 4.01 ERA in 21 games.
In April and May, Wells didn’t get to pitch regularly. He went 12 days between appearances in April and didn’t pitch from May 24th to June 2nd.
After that eight-day layoff, Wells pitched three innings against the Twins, throwing just 35 pitches and earning his first win. That gave Hyde more belief in him, and Wells had more belief in himself.
“I would certainly say after Minnesota was kind of that turning point,” Wells said. “That outing itself gave me a lot of confidence, especially against my former team. Being able to get my first MLB win against my former team.
“I think that confidence gave me the ability to go out, and not give a different energy. I think that my energy has been pretty consistent throughout the year … It helped my mindset a lot, where I need to be to go out there and put up zeroes.”
That three-inning stint remains Wells’ longest of the season, but with the Orioles’ starting rotation in flux, it’s a possibility that the Hyde might try Wells as a starter.
“I wouldn’t rule anything out right now,” Hyde said. “I think it’s definitely a possibility. You never know what’s going to happen the rest of the year, but we’re comfortable where he is right now getting the experience that he is in the bullpen. He’s starting to pitch in some big spots in games. I’m excited about giving him the opportunity. I like the guy’s stuff. We’re keeping our options open with him.”
Next week, Wells will have 90 days of service time, which means that the Orioles could option him to the minor leagues in 2022. As a Rule 5 player, the Orioles can’t option Wells to the minors this season, not that they want to.
“I would never say that I’ve made it until I actually stay and don’t go back to the minor leagues,” Wells said. “With the Rule 5 situation, I stopped looking at myself as a Rule 5 guy. The way that my mentality works, as soon as I made the team, my mentality was that I’m part of the team, I’m not Rule 5 anymore.
“I’m here to stay, and I’m going to work my way into bigger, heavier, higher-leverage roles. I forgot about it as far as that deadline or anything like that goes. I certainly don’t look at myself as a Rule 5 pick anymore. I look at myself as part of this team. The guys have certainly welcomed me in that sense.”
Notes: Hyde said that left-hander John Means, who is rehabbing in Sarasota, Florida, is playing catch and starting to pitch side sessions. “I would expect him [at] some point after the All-Star Game. … The Orioles enter Thursday night’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo with a franchise-record 19-game road losing streak. Arizona plays at San Diego on Friday night with a Major League Baseball record of 23 straight losses away from home. “I can’t speak for the other clubs,” Hyde said. “We just have not played well on the road the last month-and-a half. I don’t feel like it’s different from last year or two years ago. There’s not something special that’s happening on the road … I don’t know the reason.” … The Orioles last won a road game on May 5th when Means pitched his no-hitter.