Baltimore Orioles Lose John Means

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The Baltimore Orioles lose starter John Means to an arm injury, thus hindering an already inexperienced starting rotation. His absence leaves the Orioles with a difficult decision. Do they bring up prospects and let them take their lumps and gain the MLB experience or use some of the veterans still looking for a team?

Opening Day Starter

Baltimore Orioles lose John Means. He is the ACE of the team, and the Orioles were building a young pitching staff around him. Through his first two starts, he had allowed only three runs in eight innings, with eight strikeouts. Then, this past Wednesday he was removed after throwing only 51 pitches in four innings due to left forearm tightness

Fearing the Worst

Baltimore Orioles lose John Means in what they thought was going to be only ten days when he was put on the IL. But this past Sunday, he was transferred to the 60-day IL. Means and the Orioles are already scheduling a second opinion, but indications are that it could be a season-ending injury with Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery being suggested. However, even if Means does not need the surgery, he will be out for a long recovery time. Then there’s the rehab assignment to get him back into form.

Significant Setback

Baltimore Orioles losing John Means is a significant setback to this starting rotation. Right-hander Jordan Lyles is the only other starter to have pitched a full season. They will have to rely on several inexperienced starters, such as right-handers Spenser Watkins and Tyler Wells. Bruce Zimmermann is also the only other lefty to start. Pitching Coaches Chris Holt and Darren Holmes were certainly not ready for this. Now, they must work with the youngsters and get them ready faster than planned.

Jordan Lyles

While Baltimore Orioles losing John Means is a significant setback, Jordan Lyles is a capable veteran. The main things he brings are leadership and durability. He threw 180 innings in 2021, a mark that would have led the Orioles’ rotation. He has all the tools to settle in and be a quality starter. Lyles would like to get back to his 2019 form when had a 2.45 ERA in 11 starts down the stretch. He helped the Milwaukee Brewers to the NL Wild Card when he won seven games.

Top Prospect Grayson Rodriguez

Grayson Rodriguez is considered the Orioles’ top pitching prospect. He is only 22 and continues to improve and move up the Orioles farm system. Currently, he is at Triple-A Norfolk. His fastball is in the 95-101 MPH range. His changeup continues to improve as well. What has made him a top prospect is his command. He can throw strikes with ease and keeps his walks down. All he needs is more experience against better hitters to help his confidence. The Orioles may not have a choice and will eventually have to bring him up.

Another Prospect

Kyle Bradish is another prospect the Orioles have. He had an excellent 2022 Spring Training and showed a fastball that hit 97 MPH on many occasions. He also features a hard changeup and a slider. Bradish was likely going to see time in 2022 as a spot starter when the Orioles played a doubleheader. Now it appears his MLB debut could happen sooner than the Orioles planned.

One plan could see both Rodriguez and Bradish called up. The team could let them pitch a few games and then send them back to Triple-A to continue working on their games.

Veteran Matt Harvey

Matt Harvey was signed to a Minor League deal this past Saturday and could still be an effective starter. However, he will need time to build up his arm strength and get in-game shape. The question regarding Harvey is how much does he have left? He started 28 games last season for the Orioles but was 6-14 with an ERA of 6.27.

And, Harvey does come with other baggage. He could be facing a suspension of at least 60 days due to a violation of the MLB’s drug policy for drug distribution and for his admission in federal court that he supplied opioids to Tyler Skaggs on several occasions.

Bullpen Needs to Step-Up

One thing is for sure, the Orioles bullpen will need to step it up. The team has received some good performances from the bullpen so far this season. They have already pitched 36 innings through nine games, fifth-most in the Majors. Losing Means from the rotation will cause the Orioles to call on the bullpen. They’re going to be counted on to respond and pitch even more innings. While the team needs the bullpen to step up, this could negatively impact the Orioles later in the season if the bullpen arms become overworked.

Main Photo:
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Players Mentioned:

John Means, Jordan Lyles, Spenser Watkins, Tyler Wells, Bruce Zimmermann, Chris Holt, Darren Holmes,

Grayson Rodriguez, Kyle Bradish,

Matt Harvey, Tyler Skaggs