Tyler Wells could be pitching his way into the Orioles’ starting rotation.

After a sluggish start to the season, the Rule 5 pick from the Minnesota Twins has been one of the team’s most effective pitchers.

There’s speculation that Wells could replace the struggling Matt Harvey as an Orioles starter, but manager Brandon Hyde said that’s premature.

“There’s no talk of taking him out of the rotation,” Hyde said of Harvey. “So, we’re going to give him the ball when it’s his turn and hopefully he can turn this thing around.”

Wells did not get off to a good start this year, allowing seven runs, with four homers, in the first month of the season. He carried a 6.52 ERA in 9.2 innings.

He has pitched much better lately, allowing just one hit and no walks in six scoreless innings this month. He has a 3.06 ERA in 17.2 innings since the beginning of May.

“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. “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, [and has] 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.”

Meanwhile, Harvey is on a downward trajectory.

The veteran right-hander has lost six of seven games, allowing 36 runs and 43 hits with an 11.79 ERA in 23.2 innings. He has not pitched into the sixth inning in any of those starts. His shortest outing came against the Tampa Bay Rays May 18 when gave up six runs and seven hits in just 1.2 innings. Most recently, he allowed seven runs in three innings against the New York Mets June 9.

“It’s frustrating,” Harvey said. “It’s been a couple of years now of being really [horsecrap] and it’s frustrating. The amount of work that I’m putting in between starts. I felt good, I had good stuff. Like I said, I missed spots. Those are the frustrating ones, where you feel good, and I was throwing 95-96 mph and I got hit around. So those are the tough ones.”

The Orioles appear committed to moving forward with Harvey in the rotation in the hopes he works his way out of the recent struggles. The team hopes that Harvey can find his early-season form when he went 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in five starts in April.

Hyde has used Harvey as an opener and that’s a role that could be further discussed. The bottom line is that Harvey needs to pitch better or the Orioles will be forced to make a change, and Wells appears to be a viable option. Wells was a starter in the minor leagues with the Twins.

“I know I’ve definitely pitched pretty bad the last five, six starts, whatever it’s been,” Harvey said. “My job is to prepare and try to get better. and whatever they decide, they decide. I’ve obviously been released before, or DFA’d or whatnot, so I’ve been through the whole situation.”

Zimmermann Coming Around

Bruce Zimmermann is pitching much better since he was sent down last month.

The left-hander allowed two runs on two hits and two walks with a career-high-tying seven strikeouts June 8 against the Mets, extending his career-long winning streak to three games.

Zimmermann has struck out six or more batters in four of his last five appearances, including once out of the bullpen. Zimmermann is just one of just three pitchers in Major League Baseball with multiple wins as a starter and at least one win as a reliever this season.

“It feels good. I trust the guys behind me,” Zimmermann said.

Zimmermann was sent down after giving up four runs and seven hits in 4.2 innings against the Oakland Athletics on May 2. He was eventually recalled May 16. He has a 2.94 ERA in his last three starts, allowing five earned runs in 15.1 innings with 20 strikeouts and five walks.

He is 4-3 with a 4.83 ERA on the year.

“I guess it was more of just a breather, adjusting to major-league innings, major-league stress levels, not getting a break through the lineups,” Zimmermann said of his brief demotion. “That was kind of what was going on, I think. To go down there and reset and really establish what makes me, me in a pitching sense.”

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Todd Karpovich

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