Tyler Wilson spent the 2015 season as a long reliever and occasional replacement starter for the Orioles. He entered 2016 in the same role, but was afforded more starting opportunities as the other pitchers in the rotation faced various injuries and struggled throughout the year. Wilson, who primarily pitches to contact and features a fastball that tops out around 91 mph, performed about as well as you would expect for a replacement starter in one of the league's worst starting rotations. Wilson posted a 5.27 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 13.3 percent strikeout rate and 5.8 percent walk rate over 94 innings. He showed occasional signs of life, including an eight-inning shutout against the Red Sox, but was typically an unreliable option. He will likely serve in the same role again in 2017, offering very little for owners in the process.
Manager Buck Showalter revealed that Wilson is among a handful of pitchers still in the race to temporarily replace starter Chris Tillman (shoulder) to open 2017, Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun reports. It's hard to believe Wilson will win the job based on the spring he's having in comparison to his competition. Wilson has allowed 10 runs on 14 hits over 12.2 Grapefruit League innings while opposing hitters have battered the righty for a .286 BAA. Gabriel Ynoa and Jayson Aquino have performed noticeably better, with the latter owning an 0.82 ERA and sporting a 10:1 K:BB through 11 innings. With other arms in place to fill long-relief roles, Wilson may wind up beginning the campaign in the minors to provide the organization with starting pitching depth.
Wilson struck out one over two perfect innings Friday against the Tigers in the team's Grapefruit League opener. Wilson only needed six pitches to retire all-star's Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera in the opening frame. Originally, manager Buck Showalter thought that Wilson would throw only an inning, but he made such quick work of the Tigers that he came out for a second. The right-hander, who is battling for one of the final spots on the Orioles' pitching staff, finished the day with 21 pitches. Wilson's main competition will come from right-handers Logan Verrett and Mike Wright, both of whom can start and relieve, as well as newly-acquired southpaws Richard Bleier and Vidal Nuno.
Wilson made adjustments to his throwing program in the offseason that he hopes will propel him past the competition late in spring training, Rich Dubroff of MLB.com reports. Wilson, who will get the start when the Orioles begin Grapefruit League play on Friday against the Tigers, is fighting to win one of the team's two remaining roster spots. Last year, Wilson open the year in the Orioles bullpen, moved into the starting rotation in late-April, and was sent to Triple-A Norfolk on July 3. The 27-year-old righty thought long and hard during the offseason on how he could improve his odds to have success in 2017. "Coming into camp, I'm trying to be a lot more responsible as far as my workload [going] into the season," Wilson said. "I made some adjustments in the offseason as far as length of throwing. I started a little later, to hopefully peak later on in spring training and later on in the season, and be able to withstand that deeper into the season."
Wilson is a candidate to temporarily replace Chris Tillman (shoulder) in the O's rotation to open 2017, SB Nation reports. Initial reports suggest Tillman won't be on the shelf long, but any opportunity is a good one for Wilson, who struggled in 2016. The righty went 4-6 with a 5.27 ERA in 24 appearances (94 innings) that included 13 starts last season. A good showing over a few starts could earn Wilson more outings during the upcoming campaign if starters Wade Miley or Ubaldo Jimenez struggle early in the year.
Wilson was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Friday. The Orioles needed bullpen reinforcements after Wade Miley lasted just 1.2 innings in Friday's start. Wilson came in to help mop up Friday and gave up four runs in two innings, essentially punching his ticket to Triple-A. Odrisamer Despaigne is the likely candidate to be recalled as a corresponding move.