Is Wells a definite starter next season?

How close are the Orioles to setting their rotation?

The short answer is, “Not very.”

How much urgency is there in the fall?

The shorter answer is, “None.” But it’s one of the most important tasks facing executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias, along with adding some muscle to the offense, however he can do it.

The club doesn’t know when John Means will return from Tommy John surgery. He’s cleared to do some light tossing and plans on ramping up his activities after Jan. 1, when he reports to the spring training complex in Sarasota.

Elias will acquire at least one starter and can work the free agent and trade markets to find his veteran. He didn’t offer any hints on Oct. 5 whether the Orioles would exercise Jordan Lyles’ $11 million option, and that decision could influence how many pitching moves are on the agenda.

Grayson Rodriguez is expected to break camp as one of the starters. DL Hall is expected to break camp as one of the pitchers, with starting the organization’s preference. Kyle Bradish and Dean Kremer positioned themselves to stay in the team’s plans, but they each have minor league options left and conceivably could wind up on the outside with horrific camps.

It would have to be really bad.

Austin Voth is out of options and eligible for arbitration. Not a lock for the rotation, but a fine example of how the Orioles can reverse a pitcher’s career path.

Bruce Zimmermann is hoping for another shot after a disappointing 2022 season, which began with him starting the home opener.

And now, we come to Tyler Wells. He’s on the club and must be penciled into the rotation at this date. And tomorrow. The day after that, too.

Is Wells a definite member of the opening day rotation? I’m assuming so but can’t give a guarantee.

Manager Brandon Hyde offered the warning on Sept. 23 that “things can change.” Of course, it wasn’t fair to expect a firm answer about Wells’ role, or really, to think he’d be ready to discuss it on the day that the right-hander’s season ended due to shoulder inflammation.

“As of today, yeah,” Hyde said about Wells’ remaining a starter.

The conversion from reliever was a rousing success despite the early restrictions on his pitches and innings, and the oblique injury that cost him about six weeks.

Wells posted a 4.25 ERA and 1.138 WHIP in 103 2/3 innings, and his 23 starts tied for second on the team. He qualified as the Orioles’ most consistent starter before his oblique strain, going 4-0 in June with a 2.42 ERA and 0.962 WHIP in five outings.

Hyde referred to the season as “a nice platform for next year,” when the Orioles could extend Wells’ innings and be less heavy handed with him. Less protective while also still monitoring him.

“Treat him more like a guy who’s in the rotation,” Hyde said.

In the rotation. As of today.

“For me personally a lot of it’s going to be looking at what I had success in this year, coming from the bullpen to a starter role," Wells said when asked how he'll reflect on the year. "The streak of starts that I had that put me in a good position to really build off next year. And obviously before the injury. And on top of that, too, the injuries themselves toward the end of the season are going to give me a lot of motivation to really just come into spring training in the best shape that I can possibly be in to make sure that my body can handle that workload.

"It’s been such a learning experience for all of us this year and I think it will set us up to be very successful for next year.”

Félix Bautista is the closer, which Wells morphed into as a Rule 5 rookie in 2021. Wells would be a solid alternative and potentially dominant setup man. He could work bulk innings. He’s equipped to help in many ways.

Starting makes the most sense.  Wells passed the audition. Crushed it, actually. But what’s written on a laptop screen in October isn’t written in stone.

After he munched on innings and did more, O's have...
A few more questions for O's fans
 

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