When a team like the Orioles has so many starting pitchers who are allergic to successfully going beyond the fifth inning, the bullpen is something of a constant shuffle to line up pitchers who are fresh in case the next game’s starter - today, Matt Harvey, who hasn’t pitched five innings in six weeks - has a stinker. That’s doubly true in the aftermath of Dean Kremer not getting through one inning last night.
This means there is a constant state of opportunity for these relievers, and underneath that is the sad reality that you might get your one chance and that’s it. So it goes for knuckleballer Mickey Jannis, the sacrificial lamb in Wednesday’s loss to the Astros. The Orioles designated Jannis for assignment on Friday afternoon. The 33-year-old Jannis may end up with a long journey to MLB that lasted for one game where he gave up seven runs in 3.1 innings. They don’t make movies about that.
In addition, Kremer was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. That opens up two spots on the active roster and one on the 40-man roster. The two pitchers joining the bullpen, hopefully for more than a few days but they probably shouldn’t pack heavy suitcases, are Australian lefty Alexander Wells, the team’s #17 prospect, and right-handed pitcher Konner Wade.
I’m genuinely excited that the chance has finally arrived for Wells, who’s been at least on the edge of my radar ever since the 2016 season, when he walked 10 batters all year while pitching 140 innings for Delmarva.
Wells, 24, has been climbing the O’s minor league ladder at a level per year, only interrupted by the global pandemic canceling all minor league baseball last year. He is the sort of velocity-light lefty who, if he has success, will be deemed a “crafty lefty.” Wells has had a few good Triple-A outings and a few very bad ones so far this year, coming together for a 5.63 ERA before this call-up. Yeah, it’s not ideal.
Wade, 29, was around in Orioles spring training as one of a quartet of pitchers signed by Mike Elias who spell their first names strangely: Conner Greene, Dusten Knight, Spenser Watkins, Konner Wade. Maybe that’s the new market inefficiency. They are all real people, or at least, if it’s a conspiracy, Baseball Reference is in on it too.
The right-handed Wade originally signed after being picked from the University of Arizona in the seventh round by Colorado in 2013. He went from there to independent baseball to the Red Sox system and now the Orioles, getting some MLB roster time - maybe for long enough to pitch one game, like Jannis. He’s been something of a swingman for Norfolk, pitching 31 innings over eight games, with two starts.
Wade has a 3.48 ERA and 1.032 WHIP in that time, which is nice. He’s only struck out 20 batters in his 31 innings but still has a K/BB ratio of 3.33 since he’s also only walked six batters. MLB hitters will be tougher. That’s the way it goes. It won’t be a surprise if he pitches on Friday night if Harvey has another short, bad outing.
Along with these roster moves on Friday, the Orioles also announced that catcher Chance Sisco, recently designated for assignment, has been claimed on waivers by the Mets. Kind of unexpected to see a last place team let a guy go and a first place team claim him. I guess we’ll see if Sisco just needed a change of scenery.