The return of Rule 5 pitcher Mac Sceroler yesterday has left two Orioles on the 10-day injured list. Outfielder Austin Hays began his rehab assignment last night with Triple-A Norfolk and hit a solo home run. Pitcher John Means is with the team but shut down due to a strained left shoulder.
Hays should be activated later this week. Means won’t be back in games for a while, the Orioles taking every precaution with their ace and aiming for no further interruptions in his status over the second half of the season.
The Tides are in Jacksonville, where Hays attended college and became a third-round pick in 2016. A nice little homecoming, though he’d rather be in tonight’s lineup against the Mets to close out the two-game series.
Sceroler must be on the active roster for 90 days to shed his Rule 5 label. He appeared in two games and had been away from the team since April 11, rehabbing and facing hitters in Sarasota, Fla. and starting twice for Norfolk.
The Orioles were stretching out Sceroler, not preparing him to join their rotation. He’s mainly a long reliever unless circumstances call for him to pitch later, but still projects as a starter down the road.
Tyler Wells, the other Rule 5 selection, has been on the active roster for the first 60 games and used at times in higher-leverage situations than anticipated when the Orioles broke camp.
Again, circumstances, but also because he’s gaining manager Brandon Hyde’s trust.
Wells, chosen from the Twins at the Winter Meetings, earned his first major league win on June 2 against his former organization and has tossed six scoreless innings with one hit, no walks and five strikeouts this month.
Next comes forming a consensus on his future role, whether he also projects as a starter or is more valuable in relief with his mid-90s fastball and a slider and changeup that are averaging 89 mph this month, according to BrooksBaseball.net.
“He’s got the ability to be a starter or a reliever, and it’s really because of the development of his changeup, to be able to have multiple pitches,” Hyde said yesterday during his on-field media session.
“At times he flashes a good slider, but his changeup the last couple outings has been really good. Getting a ton of swings and misses against left-handed hitters, which he will face as a starter. The 93-96 mph fastball with a good changeup. The slider is a little bit inconsistent right now, but he shows flashes of having a good one. So he does have starter stuff.”
Hyde confirmed his temptation to use Wells more in close games. The victory came in bulk relief behind Matt Harvey, with three scoreless innings and only one hit allowed. He handled mop-up duties in Sunday’s 18-5 thrashing of the Indians and entered last night in the seventh with the Orioles leading 9-2.
Wells retired all six batters with one strikeout and lowered his ERA to 4.28.
“He’s working his way to getting the ball in a big spot in that sixth-to-eighth inning,” Hyde said. “During those 14 (losing) days we struggled in those innings and we’ve been pitching better out of the ‘pen lately, but he’s definitely earning his right to pitch later in the game.
“I didn’t want to force him early. I wanted to try to give him an opportunity to have as much success as possible and continue to evaluate him, also. But he’s throwing the ball well right now and I might push him in a big spot.”
Opportunities for Wells and Sceroler were scarce in April, when the bullpen was a strength and Hyde didn’t have many comfortable margins to dictate his decisions.
“Now I think Wellsy has really earned (the chance) to pitch in some leverage spots and to see how he’s going to react with the ball in the sixth-to-eighth inning,” Hyde said. “And Mac is stretched out now and he’s in a long relief role until further notice.”