We tend to poke fun at the Rule 5 draft and the Orioles’ past obsessions with it. Selecting three players at the 2017 Winter Meetings. Trying to carry more than one. Allowing it to become the biggest story for beat writers at those sites.
“I attended the Winter Meetings and all I got was this lousy Rule 5 pick”
There have been a few good choices, however, and Tyler Wells is proving to be a steal.
Dice are rolled when a team gambles by trying to carry an inexperienced pitcher in its bullpen, though there’s a much lower risk for a non-contender. And it isn’t an expensive investment at $100,000, with half going back to the team if the player returns to his old organization. A much cheaper way to pay for pitching. But Wells hadn’t thrown above the Double-A level and hadn’t pitched for two seasons due to Tommy John surgery and the cancellation of the minor league season.
Wells was the “other” Rule 5 guy after the Orioles picked Mac Sceroler from the Reds organization, but the order doesn’t matter. Outfielder Anthony Santander was the “other” outfielder in 2016 after Aneury Tavárez, chosen 12th overall from the Red Sox.
Santander arrived in the second round from the Indians, hadn’t played above Single-A and underwent shoulder surgery. He’s now the primary right fielder, the 2020 Most Valuable Oriole and a potential trade chip this winter or at next year’s deadline. Tavárez never made it to the majors and is playing in Mexico.
Sceroler might turn into a quality major league starter, but the Orioles couldn’t wait on him and reluctantly had to offer him back to the Reds. They really like his arm and arsenal. Wells, meanwhile, is developing into a dominant high-leverage, late-inning reliever.
The seventh inning if big outs are needed. The eighth inning if big outs are needed. The ninth inning if there’s a save situation - and big outs are needed.
He’s also been stretched out to work multiple innings while the Orioles still proceed with caution, pushed to 1 2/3 and 34 pitches Friday night.
Wells faced five batters, retired all of them and struck out three to lower his ERA to 3.42 with an 0.860 WHIP. He’s averaging 1.8 walks and 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
“Wellsy’s just been amazing,” manager Brandon Hyde said yesterday morning. “Coming off the IL, another guy I’m pitching in big spots also. We’re having a tough time getting him the ball, so I’m using him maybe a little bit earlier sometimes than I’d like.
“He’s facing the middle of the order in a big time in the game. Somebody like we talked about, hasn’t pitched in two years, never pitched above Double-A, and to do what he’s doing right now is absolutely amazing.
“With him also, you really see the confidence that he shows in all of his pitches. Attacks the strike zone, works ahead in the count, and it’s somebody I’d love to give the ball to more. We’re really taking care of him, just because he’s a big part of our future and been a real bright spot on our team this year.”
With Wells unavailable yesterday, Cole Sulser notched the last four outs and earned the win at Yankee Stadium after allowing an unearned run in the 10th inning Friday night when the automatic runner scored.
The bullpen’s unpredictability was on display again yesterday with Jorge López allowing an inherited runner to score and one of his own on Joey Gallo’s game-tying, two-run shot in the eighth. But he struck out Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.
He also was appearing in a fourth consecutive game, though the Orioles were off Thursday.
* Bruce Zimmermann, who is hoping to pitch again this season as he recovers from a sprained right ankle, apparently is out of his walking boot.
I heard that it happened recently, from a “source” that I ran into while tailgating at a Maryland football game. And I’m running with it.
Zimmermann sprained the ankle after completing his rehab assignment with Triple-A Norfolk. The biceps injury healed, but leg exercises in the weight room before rejoining the Orioles had an unfortunate ending.
* Chris Ellis stays in the Orioles rotation, his 2.16 ERA in three starts sealing that deal.
Ellis Is the first Orioles starter to throw at least five hitless innings against the Yankees since Hoyt Wilhelm’s no-hitter on Sept. 20, 1958 at Memorial Stadium. He was the first starting pitcher with at least five hitless against New York since the Red Sox’s Mike Maddux on Sept. 9, 1995.
And, yes, Ellis is the first Orioles starter to be removed from a no-hitter mid-game since David Hess on April 1, 2019 in Toronto.
Hess went 6 1/3 innings on short rest. Early in the season. His pitch count rising and leaving Hyde with an extremely uncomfortable decision.
* On a day filled with college football games, Single-A Delmarva celebrated by defeating the Carolina Mudcats 21-3.
Only a field goal prevented the shutout.
First baseman Billy Cook hit three home runs, including a pair of grand slams, and also doubled and drove in a team-record nine runs. He tied the record with three homers, last done by Collin Woody on Aug. 15, 2017.
Cook, a 10th-round selection this year out of Pepperdine University, also tied Woody’s record of four extra-base hits and came up one total base short of his mark of 15.
Delmarva set franchise records for runs scored and home runs (six).
Jean Pinto had another outstanding start with one earned run (two total) and four hits in six innings, with one walk and 11 strikeouts. His ERA is down to 1.96.
Drew Rom tossed four scoreless relief innings for Double-A Bowie, allowing two hits and striking out four.