Wins are just one stat for a pitcher, but it’s nice to get them. There is a pitcher in the Orioles organization that has been racking them up this year. In fact, he is second in all of minor league baseball in wins through Wednesday’s games.
Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Tyler Wilson began this year with Double-A Bowie and moved up to Norfolk, where he has made his last four starts. In 20 games on the year between those teams, he is 12-5 with a 3.35 ERA.
Only top Red Sox pitching prospect Henry Owens, who is 13-3 at Double-A Portland, has more wins.
The Orioles’ 2011 10th-round pick out of the University of Virginia, Wilson began last season with Single-A Frederick and later was promoted to Bowie where he made 16 starts last year and 16 more this year before his recent promotion to Triple-A.
He showed he was ready for that move up, going 17-10 with an ERA of 3.77 over those 32 starts in 2013-14 for Bowie. Ironically, Wilson pitched better with the Baysox than he did with Frederick last year. He went 1-1 with a 4.48 ERA in 11 starts for the Keys before he was sent to Bowie. Wilson had an ERA of 6.30 four starts into last season.
He actually cites that time, when he was really struggling, as one reason he has pitched so well since those early days of last year.
“I don’t really want to give myself an excuse for anything,” Wilson told me earlier this year. “I think that was a learning process. Getting off to a slow start in Frederick was frustrating for me, as it would be for anyone.
“I really took it as a kick in the pants and going into this year made it that much more important to be prepared for opening day and hit the ground running. It stunk to go through that in the moment, but going forward I think it will pay dividends in the future.”
Wilson, who will turn 25 in September, is 2-0 with an ERA of 2.00 in his first four starts for Norfolk. Over 27 innings, he’s allowed 25 hits and eight walks with 21 strikeouts. He has given up just one earned run and seven hits in 14 innings over his last two starts.
Norfolk manager Ron Johnson had some praise for Wilson in an interview with the Virginian-Pilot.
“He can change speeds. He can locate. He creates depth with the breaking ball. What’s not to like?” Johnson said.
Wilson throws a two-seam and four-seam fastball along with a slider and changeup. He tries to go right after the hitters. His velocity was between 88-91 mph last season and has been between 88-94 mph this year.
“I take a lot of pride in throwing strikes, quality strikes down in the zone, and in the importance of pounding the bottom half of the zone early in the count,” Wilson said. “Saving your pitches, allowing you to get deeper into the game and getting poor quality contact in an early count is ideal.
“It keeps everyone involved, it keeps the flow of the game going and momentum on our side. I really pound the zone with all my pitches. I try to, it’s not the same every day. Go for the strikeout when I have the chance to and just attack and compete.”
Wilson has a 112-to-30 strikeout-to-walks ratio this year over 123 2/3 innings. He has allowed three or fewer earned runs in nine of his last 10 starts, and has gotten a win in seven of his past nine.
He’s having a strong season and has come a long way from those struggles early in 2013 at Frederick to how he is pitching now for Norfolk. Wilson’s next start is tomorrow at Columbus.
As for the Orioles: I guess we should know by now that the Orioles will bounce back well from a tough loss. They did it again last night with a 4-0 shutout of Seattle.
Wei-Yin Chen was outstanding with eight scoreless innings. O’s starters in the last four games against the A’s and M’s have pitched to an ERA of 1.27.
O’s starters have worked to an ERA of 3.12 over the last 40 games and the Orioles are 25-15 in that stretch. Tell me again why they need to add a pitcher by the trade deadline?
It was an impressive win over Hisashi Iwakuma, who was 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA in July. Delmon Young started and delivered again with a three-run homer.
Now can the O’s knock off the King? They face American League ERA leader Felix Hernandez (11-2, 2.02 ERA) at Safeco Field tonight.