Wells logs career-high 7 K's against old team

July 3rd, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS -- Coming off Tommy John elbow reconstruction in 2019, the Twins decided not to protect Minor League farmhand Tyler Wells from the Rule 5 Draft in '20. Now the Orioles' most reliable starter, Wells showed his former team just what it’s missing.

Wells (7-4) carried a no-hit bid into the fifth inning for the second straight start and won his sixth consecutive decision to lead Baltimore to a 3-1 win over Minnesota on Sunday afternoon.

“Yeah, it is one of those things where it’s part of the business,” Wells said. “There are things that they missed out on, and I’m very fortunate to be here with all these great guys and be able to contribute to this organization.”

Not even Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde could have predicted Wells’ success this season. He said he had no idea how it would turn out when he essentially swapped Wells and Jorge López's roles this season, moving Wells from the bullpen to the rotation and López in the opposite direction.

López had 13 saves with a 0.73 ERA before the Twins earned walk-off wins in the first two games of the series against the Orioles’ closer, who has developed into an All-Star candidate this season.

Wells, meanwhile, owns a 3.09 ERA over 16 starts after going six strong against Minnesota. He established a new career high with seven strikeouts and allowed just one run on three hits.

Wells wasn’t even Baltimore’s first pick in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft. He was taken in the second round after the Orioles added right-hander Mac Sceroler in the first round.

“It’s amazing, unbelievable, and he didn’t pitch two years prior to that,” Hyde said. “What he did last year was unbelievable, and now what he’s doing this year is even more so. So we’re all excited about him.”

Wells, a 15th-round Draft pick in 2016 out of Cal State San Bernandino by the Twins, made his Major League debut in 2021 and had a 4.11 ERA in 44 relief appearances that season while earning four saves.

Given another chance as a starter this year, he’s made the most of it. Wells has allowed more than three runs just once -- his first career start on April 10. He’s allowed just 12 hits and three runs over his past four starts spanning 22 innings.

Wells was perfect in his previous outing before Seattle’s Cal Raleigh homered in the fifth. The first hit he allowed Sunday was Nick Gordon’s one-out double, also in the fifth.

“Just seems like we’re running out there on the field for a couple minutes and then just running back every time,” said Ryan Mountcastle, who had one of Baltimore’s three home runs on Sunday, going back-to-back with Trey Mancini in the sixth. “I love that. He’s been pitching great, pounding the zone and attacking guys, which is huge.”

Wells kept Minnesota’s hitters off balance by effectively mixing his fastball, curve, slider and changeup.

“He’s got multiple pitches to go to and he’s got confidence in all four,” Hyde said. “So, it’s really unpredictable, tough on the hitter and he’s got such good fastball command that he’s able to pitch at the top of the zone or the bottom of the zone, in and out, works ahead, just doing everything right now.”

Wells said pitching against the Twins is special -- not so much from a competitive standpoint, but because he has so many friends on the other side. He spoke of being good friends with Minnesota’s Luis Arraez and Alex Kirilloff, to name two.

Twins third-base coach Tommy Watkins was his manager at one point, and new pitching coach Pete Maki was the organization’s Minor League pitching coordinator during Wells’ tenure.

“I think the fun part about it is playing against the guys that I came up with,” Wells said. “I have a lot of really strong feelings for those guys. I care about them a lot. But to be able to go out there and compete against them is always fun.”