When John Means returns, the Orioles rotation round him will likely be totally different — and higher — than the one he leaves

Across 4 paragraphs, white textual content on a black background posted to Twitter, the gut-wrenching actuality settled in relating to what started as forearm tightness and ended as season-ending Tommy John surgical procedure. That’s what Orioles ace John Means posted Saturday afternoon, confirming the worst-case state of affairs with a succinct replace on his impending elbow reconstruction surgical procedure.

Means finds his season derailed earlier than it had barely begun. He had thrown simply eight innings, departing his second begin of the season after 4 innings and 51 pitches as a precaution. Over the following few days, what Means initially described as forearm tightness upgraded to a 10-day after which 60-day injured listing designation. It went from tightness to an elbow pressure to an elbow sprain.

The elbow reconstruction surgical procedure leaves the left-hander staring down not less than a year-long restoration.

At the tip of that four-paragraph replace, nonetheless, was a glimpse towards the longer term. “I’ll be back,” Means wrote. And he will likely be, as a result of Tommy John surgical procedure — whereas involving an arduous comeback — isn’t the career-threatening operation it as soon as was.

When Means returns sooner or later in 2023, the rotation and staff he left this season will probably look a lot totally different. He’ll come again because the main man in an up-and-coming rotation, one boasting three high prospects as a result of make their main league debuts and one other left-hander — Bruce Zimmermann — who has been lights out to start this season.

So whereas the harm is a serious setback for a pitcher who aimed to succeed in 200 innings this season, the long-term outlook isn’t as bleak. The 2022 Orioles aren’t in win-now mode. But because the prospects start to reach and Means returns to well being, maybe 2023 will characteristic a distinct mentality, with a once-again wholesome Means on the forefront.

“I’m obviously disappointed,” Means wrote, “but more motivated than ever.”

When Means first sustained the harm, supervisor Brandon Hyde stated the lack of the staff’s ace wouldn’t speed up the promotions of any prospects. But three pitchers ought to quickly discover their option to the large leagues — and if all goes in line with plan, they need to stick within the rotation going ahead.

Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, baseball’s high pitching prospect, may arrive by midsummer. He’s blown his approach by way of Triple-A lineups, permitting two runs with a 0.49 WHIP in 14 1/3 innings. Following him is left-hander DL Hall, the No. 3 prospect in Baltimore’s farm system, in line with Baseball America, and right-hander Kyle Bradish (No. 9).

The Orioles have positioned a lot of their future on these three arms. Hall stays on the event listing because the group slows his restoration from a stress response in his left elbow final season. Bradish has largely matched Rodriguez’s manufacturing at Triple-A Norfolk, conceding two earned runs in 15 innings.

“We’re not going to rush prospects,” Hyde informed reporters in Los Angeles. “We’re going to do what’s right for them. We’re throwing the ball right now extremely well as a staff. Since John has been out, different guys have stepped up and we have to continue to do that.”

Zimmermann figures to be a fixture within the rotation shifting ahead, taking a step ahead this season. The southpaw, with a changeup-heavy arsenal akin to Means’, turned the primary Orioles starter since Jim Palmer in 1978 to start the season with not less than 14 scoreless innings.

Adding Means to that group of 4 would arrange a rotation that appears — not less than on paper — able to competing within the American League East. Means stays underneath staff management by way of the 2024 season, when he turns into free-agent eligible.

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There are few certainties in baseball. Recoveries from Tommy John surgical procedure are smoother than they as soon as have been however aren’t with out hiccups. And the event of prospects has surprising twists concerned, too.

There’s loads to remove from that four-paragraph assertion Means posted to Twitter. The a number of MRIs confirming the necessity for Tommy John surgical procedure. The disappointment of a season misplaced so early. But specializing in that final line — “I’ll be back” — is a salve of types to the burn Means’ prognosis leaves on the 2022 marketing campaign.

It’ll take a yr, however the rotation Means will rejoin might be a lot better than the one left in his wake. And that’s a glimmer of hope on which to cling tightly.


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