John Means entered the 2022 season with hopes of pitching 200 innings for the Orioles. It could possibly be a while earlier than his rely goes past eight this yr, if it ever does.
Means, Baltimore’s left-handed ace, was positioned on the 10-day injured checklist Friday with a left elbow pressure. Manager Brandon Hyde described the ailment as a forearm muscle pressure, with the membership planning to have Means, 28, endure additional assessments past the MRI he’s already taken to find out any structural injury in his elbow.
Means exited his begin Wednesday with left forearm tightness, typically a precursor to elbow accidents, with extra vital circumstances a sign for Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgical procedure. He was presupposed to work 5 or 6 innings, throwing as much as 85 pitches, however he lasted solely 4 innings on 51 pitches earlier than being pulled in opposition to the Milwaukee Brewers.
“Losing your opening day starter — we’ll see how long it’s gonna be — but for some time now, it’s going to be hard,” Hyde stated. “Need guys to step up. John’s one of the guys that people look up to on our pitching staff, and so to have him out is going to be challenging, but it’s part of the game, and there’s injuries everywhere, and injuries happen to every team, and we just caught a bad break with this one.”
Hyde stated the Orioles don’t but understand how they may fill Means’ spot within the rotation, along with his subsequent flip scheduled for Tuesday in Oakland. In the meantime, they stuffed his roster spot by choosing the contract of right-handed reliever Travis Lakins Sr., who posted a 4.36 ERA in 46 appearances for Baltimore over the previous two seasons. To open a 40-man roster spot for Lakins, left-hander Kevin Smith, the Orioles’ No. 20 prospect based on Baseball America, was positioned on outright waivers and assigned to Triple-A Norfolk. Smith, 24, was certainly one of two minor leaguers Baltimore obtained from the New York Mets for reliever Miguel Castro on the 2020 commerce deadline.
Means allowed three runs throughout a pair of four-inning outings this season, his second straight as Baltimore’s season-opening starter. He has, by a cushty margin, been the Orioles’ high pitcher since breaking camp as certainly one of their closing roster members in 2019, although he has now hung out on the injured checklist in every of the previous 4 seasons.
A left shoulder pressure value him time in 2019 and 2021, prompting Means to spend his offseason at a bodily remedy facility within the Dallas-Fort Worth space to keep away from future flare-ups. In the previous of these two seasons, he represented the Orioles within the All-Star Game and was the American League’s runner-up in Rookie of the Year voting. The latter noticed him function certainly one of baseball’s high pitchers by two months of the yr, pitching Baltimore’s first complete-game no-hitter in additional than 50 years that May. He was supposed to begin Baltimore’s season opener in 2020, solely to as a substitute open the yr on the IL with arm fatigue.
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Means stated after Wednesday’s begin that he hadn’t beforehand skilled forearm or elbow points.
“John’s not a real up and down guy, and I think he’s just trying to stay positive with this whole thing and optimistic,” Hyde stated. “But I think he’s handling it fine.”
With Means presumably absent for an prolonged time period, Hyde stated the Orioles probably will lengthen a few of their different starters faster than they meant to coming off a shortened spring coaching, needing to cowl extra innings and forestall a bullpen that has carried out effectively thus far from being overused. They will proceed to be cautious with Tyler Wells, a transformed reliever coming off two misplaced seasons due to Tommy John surgical procedure and the COVID-19 pandemic, however Jordan Lyles, Bruce Zimmermann and Spenser Watkins — who Hyde stated will “probably” stay within the rotation and begin Monday — could possibly be pushed within the coming weeks.
“Innings are going to be at a premium,” Hyde stated. “We need guys to get starter-type of innings to get through this year.”
Hyde advised that Keegan Akin and Mike Baumann, two mid-20s starters who’ve discovered early-season success as relievers, will keep in these roles regardless of the newly open rotation spot, in hopes the long-relief roles they’re in now are what go well with every of them one of the best going ahead.
It additionally appears uncertain the Orioles will push both Grayson Rodriguez or Kyle Bradish, their high right-handed pitching prospects, to the majors. Through three begins with Triple-A Norfolk between them, the pair has mixed to strike out 21 batters in opposition to one stroll in 13 innings whereas permitting two runs, however neither has thrown greater than the 67 pitches Rodriguez threw Thursday.
“I think that they’re gonna move the prospects when they’re ready to move the prospects,” Hyde stated, “and not determining [by] what our record is or what’s happening here with the major league roster.”