After walking five batters, allowing six runs and retiring just one batter on Thursday night, Dean Kremer was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk for the third time this season.
The right-hander’s place on the roster will be taken by left-hander Alexander Wells, the Australian native who gets his first call to the big leagues.
Kremer, who is 0-7 with a 7.25 ERA in 12 starts, must stay in the minors for 10 days unless he replaces a player placed on the injured list. His first two stints in Triple-A this season, were brief. Manager Brandon Hyde said this one won’t be.
“It’s extremely hard to pitch in the big leagues, and it’s extremely hard to be a starter in this division,” Hyde said. “We care a lot about Dean. Dean’s going to be a good major league starter. We feel like the right thing to do is to go to Triple-A for an extended period, work on being consistent with this command for all of his pitches, so when he finally comes back up here, he’s able to sustain. Right now he’s having a hard time going from start-to-start, outing-to-outing, being consistent with his stuff and his command.”
Wells was added to the 40-man roster in November. He’s 4-3 with a 5.67 ERA in eight games with Norfolk, six of them starts. The 24-year-old wasn’t able to be at summer camp in 2020 because the pandemic restricted travel.
Hyde said that Wells will be in the bullpen for Friday night’s game against Toronto in Buffalo because Kremer’s short start left the bullpen needing relievers who could throw multiple innings. He could replace Kremer in the rotation.
For the moment, the Orioles’ rotation consists of Matt Harvey, Keegan Akin, Jorge Lopez and Thomas Eshelman. John Means and Bruce Zimmermann are both on the 10-day injured list and won’t pitch until after the All-Star break.
“The teams that we play have really good offenses,” Hyde said. “There’s no breather ever here.
“We’re in a tough spot. We don’t have a ton of starter depth. We have young guys that are trying to survive in the big leagues in the rotation, and they’re facing offenses that are built to win postseason games. Sometimes you take your lumps up here, then you go back down and you try and go and figure it out and come back.
“It’s where we are right now [as an] organization, and it’s hard to compete without quality starts. It affects the bullpen and the next day and all that stuff. We’re doing the best we can.”
The Orioles have called up Eshelman and Zac Lowther for spot starts, and perhaps recalled Akin and Kremer before they wanted to.
“There’s been times where we need them to start because we didn’t have anybody, and that’s just being realistic,” Hyde said. “Hopefully, these guys can deal with adversity and learn from mistakes and continue to grow and to develop. We’re going to put them in the best position to have success, but we need to fill out a rotation, too. We’re doing the best we can with what we have.”
In 2017, Wells was named as the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year when he went 11-5 with a 2.38 ERA in 25 starts for Low-A Delmarva. Wells walked just 10 batters in 140 innings in 2017. This season, he’s walked four in 32 innings for the Tides.
“I didn’t get off to the best start this year,” Wells said. “This month was a lot better. I finally got into a groove for the month of June. I had the confidence and belief in myself to go out there and compete, every fifth, sixth day, whatever it was. I took confidence from each start, and it grew on me.”
Wells was surprised by the news.
“I was a bit shocked by the call,” he said. “Not really expecting it, but super happy to be here and happy to join the team.”
To add another fresh arm to the bullpen, the Orioles purchased the contract of right-hander Konner Wade from Triple-A Norfolk and designated knuckleballer Mickey Jannis for assignment.
Wade, a 29-year-old right-hander, was acquired in November 2017 from the Colorado Rockies for $500,000 in international signing bonus money but was released at the end of minor league spring training in 2018. Wade, who re-signed with the Orioles in February, is 1-1 with a 3.48 ERA in eight games, seven starts, for Norfolk.
“It’s validation for all the hard work I put in,” Wade said. “There were a lot of times when I didn’t know if if this day would ever come. I’ve been released. I sat in [Independent] ball for over a year. I played in Mexico, typically roads that are difficult to get back into affiliated [ball], and ultimately to get to the major leagues.
“I felt like I still had some good baseball left in me, and I wanted to pursue the dream that I had since I was a kid.”
The 33-year-old Jannis got threeIt days in the major leagues after signing his first professional contract with Tampa Bay in 2010. He allowed seven runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings against Houston on Wednesday night.
The Orioles have seven days to trade, waive or release Jannis.
Sisco to Mets: Catcher Chance Sisco, who was designated for assignment a week ago, was claimed on waivers by the New York Mets. The claim brings an end to Sisco’s tenure with the Orioles, who selected him in the second round of the 2013 draft. In parts of five seasons with the Orioles, Sisco batted .199 in 191 games.