Tyler Wells has been a key part of the Orioles’ rotation this season.
His Achilles’ heel, however, keeps coming back to bite him.
Wells has given up 16 home runs this season, the third-most in Major League Baseball. Twenty-two of the 29 runs Wells has allowed came from home runs, including two solo shots on Thursday, blemishes on what otherwise was a solid start.
It didn’t end up hurting the Orioles this time. Baltimore beat Toronto 4-2 on Thursday to win the series, tying the game with an Adley Rutschman home run in the fifth and taking the lead on an Anthony Santander RBI single in the sixth. They got some insurance from Austin Hays, who hit a solo home run in the eighth to extend the lead.
Wells’ inability to keep the ball in the park hasn’t hindered the Orioles too badly this season — Baltimore has won all but four of his starts — but could become a problem if they aren’t able to get it under control. On Thursday, Danny Jansen hit both of the home runs off Wells, taking him deep in the third and fifth innings.
“I think if you look at a lot of home runs it’s just mistake pitches down the middle,” Wells said. “Danny got me on two of them today. ... He definitely got the best of me today.”
Wells is still a relatively inexperienced pitcher, his inning count three months into the season already almost as high as it was for all of 2022. He spent 2021 in the bullpen on a pitch count after Tommy John surgery in 2019, and part of last season on the injured list with shoulder inflammation.
Wells entered spring training with a question mark next to his name, but earned the spot out of camp and has held onto it. And, aside from keeping the ball in the stadium, the 28-year-old has largely delivered. His strikeout numbers are up — he’s already surpassed last year’s total in 20 fewer innings — and he’s going longer into games, averaging close to six innings a game compared to 4 1/2 a year ago.
He attributes his success this season to his ability to set up pitches better, in addition to overall command. He currently has a 3.20 ERA, a mark that could put him in contention for an All-Star bid.
“Other than the home runs, I would assess it as I’ve made big strides,” Wells said. “I’m always continually trying to improve on that and improve myself. I try not to be too hard on myself, but culturally we all are. Right now, I’m going to enjoy it. I definitely think there are some things that I can do better.”