A few more thoughts on Wells reliving his reliever days

The Orioles are a long way from setting their pitching staff for the postseason. As manager Brandon Hyde reminds us, he’s just trying to get through each game and hope that no one else is injured.

He won’t count his playoff chickens before clinching is official and the team can hatch a plan.

However, some light was shed yesterday on its bullpen strategy.

Tyler Wells is going back to his former relief role at Triple-A Norfolk beginning tonight, with the Orioles shortening his appearances to freshen an arm that can be used as a weapon. The decision made after he posted a 3.18 ERA and 0.927 WHIP, for a time the lowest in the majors, during a first half that created some chatter about his candidacy for the All-Star team.

Three starts after the break rattled his season.

Wells allowed 11 runs, walked nine batters and hit three in nine innings. Lapses in command that didn’t exist previously. That told the Orioles something was wrong.

They optioned him to Double-A Bowie and also wanted him to do some work at their pitching lab in Bel Air. A reset aimed to combat any possible fatigue and remove him from a pressurized environment.

This isn’t how 2023 was trending for Wells.

This isn’t an indication that the Orioles quit viewing him as a rotation piece.

I’d expect Wells to report to spring training next year as a starter, stretched out for the role but leaving the Orioles with the option of switching him back to relief again. But it’s speculation without knowing how the roster is constructed, and what moves executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias makes to address the rotation.

Meanwhile, the bullpen could be a beast in October, and maybe early November.

Teams want to shorten games for their starters, and the Orioles need to make it easier to get the ball to Yennier Cano and Félix Bautista at the backend. And also, to have someone else who could fill in for both relievers.

Wells has worked as a setup man and a closer. He can provide length. It makes sense.

It also could put more pressure on Shintaro Fujinami to throw strikes and get outs. He’s in audition mode.

Wells has made it clear that he'd rather start, but he'll do whatever the team asks. No concerns there.

The Orioles can use plenty of combinations for the ‘pen. We know Wells is in it as long as he’s effective. We don’t know if John Means is a starter or reliever, but he’s ready to join Norfolk and keep increasing his pitch counts. We can boldly assume that DL Hall is going to be called up by next month.

We don’t know if Austin Voth is coming or going. His rehab assignment is over, but the Orioles haven’t reinstated him from the injured list. They can’t wait much longer to announce their intentions.

"We're just kind of monitoring where we are, how he's doing, and seeing where our bullpen is on a daily basis,” Hyde said yesterday.

Jacob Webb is out of options and earning more opportunities with 7 2/3 scoreless innings in eight games. The only two hits are singles, one that didn’t leave the infield. He’s struck out 11 batters, including three in the 10th inning Saturday in Oakland after the Athletics loaded the bases.

The feel for the changeup has returned, making Webb a trusted high-leverage reliever just two weeks into his tenure.

Danny Coulombe could be reinstated by Thursday when he’s eligible. He suggested over the weekend that he might need only one rehab appearance, and he retired the side in order last night with two strikeouts in Norfolk.

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