Right-hander Tyler Wilson pitched himself onto the Orioles' major league roster with the best spring of any of the starting rotation candidates. But absent a spot in the rotation early in the season, he has been relegated to a long-relief role in the bullpen.
Wilson has pitched just twice this season, giving the Orioles three innings of relief on April 4 in the Opening Day win against the Minnesota Twins, and three more innings to save the bullpen in an April 13 loss to the Boston Red Sox.
It's an unglamorous job, but manager Buck Showalter said: "He loves it compared to the alternative."
Still, Showalter acknowledges that Wilson's smooth, repeatable delivery and his ability to throw multiple innings of relief can run counter to his lifelong role as a starter.
"He's a contributor," Showalter said. "I'm telling you, he's one of those guys that people just sell short a little bit. There's a reason why winning has followed him around. …
"What he does and [left-hander T.J. McFarland] does is so important to a club staying healthy. That's one of the things I've been real proud of because what they're able to do allows everybody else to stay away from the league leaders in appearances and stuff. We're not going to do that. We've gotten a very good return on it, and they may not be particularly sexy on a given night."
Both Wilson and McFarland, plus at times right-hander Dylan Bundy, have been used as long relievers in games when the Orioles have tried to stay away from their trio of top relievers — Zach Britton, Darren O'Day and Brad Brach.
Wilson has rewarded the Orioles with six innings of scoreless relief this season, with just four hits allowed and three strikeouts. Showalter said Wilson is a lot more than just an innings-eater, and indicated his future was bright no matter how he's used.
"I think sometimes because he doesn't throw 97, people sell him short," Showalter said. "There's no unbelievable out pitch that you can't wait to get to. It's the sum of all of his parts that make him effective. He's very trustworthy. You can count on him. He's very strong mentally. If you've been said you're not quite good enough as many times as he has since his 10th grade, you get a good chip on your shoulder. He's a guy that loves the competition. He loves the responsibilities that come with being up here. You can't say that about everybody."