"This is an unusual week," manager Brandon Hyde said. "We'll see what happens."
The Orioles optioned Wells to Double-A Bowie on Sunday before their game against the New York Yankees. Wells is among the major league leaders with a 1.02 WHIP, and he's posted a 7-6 record with a 3.80 ERA, but he's lasted only nine innings total in three starts since the All-Star break.
He did not make it out of the third in Saturday night's loss to New York.
"We feel like he needs a little bit of a break," Hyde said. "He ... was league leading in WHIP because of the command and the lack of walks. His only issue, a little bit, was giving up some solo homers once in a while.
"But really the last three or four starts, there's been some things in there that was uncharacteristic."
Baltimore selected the contract of right-handed reliever Joey Krehbiel from Triple-A Norfolk, and sending Wells to the minors only fuels speculation that the AL East-leading Orioles will add to their rotation before Tuesday's trade deadline. Baltimore's starters have had moments of excellence this season, but the position players and bullpen have been the driving forces behind the team's rise to the American League's best record.
The 28-year-old Wells has thrown 113⅔ innings this season. He threw 106 in all of 2022 in the majors and minors.
His recent struggles underscore a concern for the Orioles, who recently passed Tampa Bay to take over first place in the division. Aside from 35-year-old Kyle Gibson, Baltimore is relying on less experienced starters whose workloads could become an issue.
Rookie Grayson Rodriguez is up to 103⅔ innings (majors and minors) this year, his most as a pro. Kyle Bradish and Dean Kremer have never reached 150 innings, but they're both over 100 this season, with the stretch run -- and potentially the postseason - still to come.
"All these guys are going to go through things for the first time, honestly," Hyde said. "It's part of development, and it's part why they're going to be really good down the road, too. We're trying to win right now. We're going to try to win down the road."
Hyde said the Orioles have a plan for Wells to pitch in the minors to stay sharp, but with a manageable workload. The hope is he'll be refreshed and ready to rejoin the big league team eventually.
"He's a big part of our team, and we need him to be right," Hyde said.
The Orioles designated right-hander Eduard Bazardo for assignment.