CLEVELAND — The Orioles are bringing back one of their most reliable arms of the first half at a time when they need it most.

Baltimore, fighting for its first AL East title since 2014, recalled Tyler Wells on Friday, a needed reinforcement for an overworked bullpen that played a big part in the Orioles’ losses on Wednesday in Houston and Thursday in Cleveland. Mike Baumann was optioned to create space on the active roster.

“We’re looking for guys to get outs right now with the fatigue in the bullpen, and hopefully he can give us a lift,” manager Brandon Hyde said.

For the first half of the season, Wells was the Orioles’ most reliable starter. He went at least five innings in his first 18 starts, holding down a 3.18 ERA while making a strong case to be considered for the All-Star Game.

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Then the strain started to set in.

Wells had Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in 2019 and had never pitched a full major league season as a starter. By late July, he had pitched a career-high 113 2/3 innings. He averaged only three innings a game in his three outings after the All-Star Game, his control lacking.

“He showed he can start in this league and have a lot of success,” Hyde said. “He just ran out of gas. It’s easy to see why. He wasn’t built up to be a six-month starter.”

The Orioles sent him to Double-A, hoping his arm would get a much-needed break. He wasn’t surprised by the move, he said, and understood that it was best for the team.

“I mean, I think I handled it the best as I could,” Wells said.

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In Bowie, he maintained his daily workload but his game usage decreased — he pitched only once every seven days, never eclipsing three innings. The Orioles later moved him to Norfolk and put him in the bullpen. The Tides also used him sparingly, typically pitching him every three days. He last pitched Wednesday, when he gave up one earned run on two hits in two-thirds of an inning.

“The coaches down there have been great. Their attention to detail was awesome,” Wells said. “It definitely benefited me mentally, physically, everything.”

Wells returns to a team trying to hold on to its 1.5-game lead in the AL East while in the midst of a 17-game streak without a day off. The Orioles have used 12 relievers in the last 10 days and have made seven bullpen roster moves during that span.

On Friday, the team had limited options for a fresh arm — Cole Irvin, Joey Krehbiel, Nick Vespi and Bryan Baker were all optioned less than 15 days ago and were unable to return except to replace an injured player.

Wells will have no limitations, but, as with the rest of the bullpen during this stretch, he’ll be evaluated after every outing. For now he’ll be used out of the bullpen, but a return to the rotation next spring has not been ruled out.

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“I think my stuff is great,” Wells said. “Everything has been feeling really good. Physically, I feel great. Continuing to make sure that goes well and stay on top of that in my catch play and daily routine is important.”

This story was updated with the number of bullpen roster moves the Orioles have made in the last 10 days.

danielle.allentuck@thebaltimorebanner.com