Who will step into the Orioles rotation with Tyler Wells on the IL?

The Orioles have several options to fill in for Tyler Wells.
Baltimore Orioles v Pittsburgh Pirates
Baltimore Orioles v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages

The Baltimore Orioles announced on Tuesday that Tyler Wells was being placed on the IL due to inflammation in his right pitching elbow. It's a big loss to the Orioles pitching staff, which is already down two starters. Fortunately, they have several options that should be able to fill in, at least in the short term.

As the 2024 season approached, the Orioles were expected to field a strong cast of starting pitchers headlined by 2023 breakout Kyle Bradish. When the news broke that the O's had acquired Corbin Burnes from the Milwaukee Brewers, it looked like Baltimore could have one of the best starting rotations in baseball. Unfortunately, an injury to Bradish and a setback in John Means' rehab came to light when spring training began, and Wells and Cole Irvin were able to work their way back into the rotation.

The season has gotten off to a good start, as the Orioles are 11-6 and just a half-game back of the first place New York Yankees in the AL East, but the pitching has not been the strength we thought it would be. Burnes and Grayson Rodriguez are dominating, with a combined record of 5-0 with 52 Ks and ERAs of 2.28 (Burnes) and 2.63 (Rodriguez) in eight starts, but the other starters have struggled. Wells, Irvin and Dean Kremer have combined to go 0-4 with 38 Ks and ERAs of 5.87 (Wells), 6.75 (Irvin) and 4.96 (Kremer) in nine starts.

Internal options who could replace Orioles' Tyler Wells in rotation

The good news for the Orioles is that both Means and Bradish are on the road to recovery and should be back in Baltimore soon, but not soon enough. Means has made three starts for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides, but does not appear ready to head back to Baltimore just yet. After getting shelled in his first start of the season, Means has shown improvement in his last two, but he hasn't gone past 3.0 innings in a start yet. Wells was scheduled to start on Wednesday for the Orioles and Means is scheduled to start for the Tides, so the timing would line up for Means to step in. Unfortunately, it looks like Means will need another start or two in the minors instead.

Bradish just made his season debut with the Double-A Bowie Baysox on Tuesday and looked great. He pitched 3.0 innings and gave up just one hit (a single) and struck out four, but it was just his first start and he was limited to 44 pitches. Bradish was able to throw all of his pitches coming off of his UCL injury and his fastball was in the mid-90s, but obviously he needs more time to build up his arm before returning to Baltimore.

The top two pitching prospects on the Orioles are Chayce McDermott and Cade Povich. McDermott, the Orioles' No. 8 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is having a solid start to this season. He made his fourth start on Tuesday, and has only given up 12 hits in 17.0 innings while striking out 21 batters. On the flip side, he has allowed seven earned runs. McDermott is a big right-hander who pitched to a 3.10 ERA last season. He's 25 years old and looking for his chance to break through into the majors.

As good as McDermott is, the best choice for the Orioles to fill a rotation spot right now is Povich. Povich, a lefty and the team's No. 9 prospect, has gotten off to an incredible start this season. He just pitched on Saturday, so he won't be available for Thursday's game, but in three starts this season Povich has been nearly untouchable. He went 6.0 innings in his first game, allowing just one hit and striking out five while walking none. His second game was 5.0 innings, featuring one run on two hits while striking out nine. Povich pitched 5.1 innings in his third game, allowing only a solo home run and striking out 10 batters. Povich has a 1.10 ERA, an 0.55 WHIP and opposing batter are hitting a mere .077 against him.

The Orioles got a quality start from Rodriguez on Tuesday paired with a huge night from the offense, allowing them to complete the game using only Mike Baumann and the newly acquired Yohan Ramirez out of the bullpen. The Birds could turn to Bruce Zimmermann or spring training surprise Albert Suarez for a spot start on Wednesday, as both pitchers are on full rest, but only Zimmermann is currently on the 40 man roster. With an off day scheduled for Thursday, it is possible the Birds have a bullpen game on Wednesday, but the rotation spot still needs to be filled until Means and Bradish can return.