Over the next few weeks, Camden Chat writers will be looking at the projected performance for most of the expected regulars on the Orioles roster. We’ll be sizing up what would have to go right for players to beat the projections, or go wrong for players to fail to live up to them, and polling readers for each player.
Every team had a chance to select Tyler Wells in the 2020 Rule 5 draft, and every team passed on him. That includes the Orioles, who instead took Mac Sceroler with the the fifth overall pick that year. Wells slid into the second round, where the O’s then finally plucked him, a long shot to make the Opening Day roster considering he hadn’t even played minor league ball since 2018 due to Tommy John surgery in 2019 and COVID in 2020.
The righty impressed down in Sarasota ahead of the 2021 season and went north with the big league squad, eventually becoming one of Brandon Hyde’s preferred options out of the ‘pen that season. As the team’s needs shifted going into 2022 so did Wells’ assignment. He was a starter once again for a pitching staff that desperately needed someone to eat innings.
Wells excelled in the role too, looking like the team’s best starter through the all-star break. At the time, he owned a 3.38 ERA over 85.1 innings. But the increased workload seemed to take it’s toll on the 6-foot-8 hurler. He went on the IL in late July with an oblique injury. Then experienced shoulder discomfort in September following his return, which ended his season.
His five starts after the Midsummer Classic were some of his worst of the season. He tossed just 18.1 innings and served up 17 runs on 19 hits, 17 strikeouts, seven walks, and six home runs. That soured his overall numbers, saddling him with a 4.25 ERA and 4.52 FIP over 103.2 total innings for the year.
This season the pitching landscape has shifted once again in Baltimore, and it’s now because of the most talented batch of starting candidates this organization has seen in some time. In addition to Wells, there’s newly added veterans Kyle Gibson and Cole Irvin, prospects Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall, holdovers Dean Kremer and Kyle Bradish, plus the fringe options of Austin Voth, Spenser Watkins, Keegan Akin, and Bruce Zimmermann. It’s not totally clear how/if Wells fits.
For now, Wells is being worked out as a starter in camp. But there is a real possibility that he ends up back in the bullpen, where the Orioles are looking to shore up the floor of a unit that greatly exceeded expectations a season ago.
It is generally accepted that some negative regression is coming for the group, and early-spring struggles of Joey Krehbiel and Bryan Baker have reinforced that possibility. The signing of free agent Mychal Givens will help to steady things, but more help could be needed. Turning to the 28-year-old Wells, who has now seen success as both a starter and reliever in the league, feels like a nice option.
- ZiPS: 4.50 ERA, 4.47 FIP, 1.20 WHIP over 94 IP
- Steamer: 4.37 ERA, 4.41 FIP, 1.27 WHIP over 105 IP (both FanGraphs)
- Marcel: 4.04 ERA, 1.143 WHIP over 98 IP (Baseball Reference)
Each of these projections bakes in the lack of clarity in Wells’ role. They have him jumping between the rotation and the bullpen to varying degrees, but it all comes to a somewhat similar final product. It’s not too different from his full season numbers from 2022: 4.25 ERA, 4.52 FIP, 1.14 WHIP over 103.2 innings.
The case for the over
Although his role has changed each of the last two seasons, Wells entered those years with a clear role in mind. This year is different, and it’s not even guaranteed that he makes the Opening Day roster, depending upon the front office’s planned personnel gymnastics. Not to mention his injury concerns from last season.
It all points to a tumultuous season that would be difficult to navigate for any player. That could be amplified on an Orioles team with playoff aspirations and slim margins for error.
The case for the under
There is a clear need for someone with Wells’ skillset in the Orioles’ bullpen. It would benefit the pitcher as well, allowing him to ramp up his velocity back up to where it was in 2021, nearly two ticks faster than where he sat as a starter. That should make him more of a strikeout threat and a viable late-inning option, taking pressure off of Félix Bautista and the rest of the staff.
What do you think? Vote in the poll and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Will Tyler Wells be over or under his Steamer projected ERA of 4.37 in 2023?
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