Orioles left-hander John Means recently suffered a back muscle strain, with general manager Mike Elias relaying the news to reporters, including Andy Kostka of The Baltimore Banner (Twitter links).
Means, 30, underwent Tommy John surgery in April of last year and is on the 60-day injured list. It was already known that he wasn’t going to be available to the Orioles in the early parts of this season but this new issue will push his timeline even further down the road. “We’re still very much hoping to get him back this season,” Elias said. “But this is obviously going to slow things down and tack on some time before we actually see him out pitching games.” Elias said that a return in July is out of the picture, meaning it will still be many months before he returns.
It’s an unfortunate development as Means had previously been one of the few bright spots on the Baltimore roster during their dismal rebuilding years. He has 356 2/3 career innings with a 3.81 ERA. His 21.2% strikeout rate is actually slightly below average, but he pairs that with strong control, shown by his 5% walk rate.
The club is now showing that those dreary tanking years are in the past, as they have shot out to an excellent 33-17 start here in 2023. However, the starting rotation still stands out as an area that could use some improvement. The Baltimore starters have a collective 4.76 ERA this year, a mark that places them 21st out of the 30 clubs in the league.
Getting Means back into the mix could have provided them with a stabilizing effect but that will now have to wait. His continued progress over the next few months could perhaps have an impact on how the club approaches the trade deadline, which is on August 1 this year. If the southpaw seems like he’s close to returning by then, perhaps they feel less urgency to splurge on a rotation addition, but the inverse could also be true.
Means still hadn’t settled his arbitration salary last year at the time of his surgery. Shortly after going under the knife, he and the club agreed to a two-year, $5.925MM deal that covered both last year and this season. He’ll be eligible for arbitration one more time for the 2024 season, after which he’d reach free agency. The kind of raise he’ll be able to command will be impacted by when he’s able to return and what form he’s in.
Elsewhere on the Orioles’ roster, right-hander Dillon Tate has been dealing with a flexor strain since November and still hasn’t made it to the majors this year. He’s been pitching in the minors on a rehab assignment for the past month but won’t be joining the big league club anytime soon. Elias says that Tate has a stress reaction in his elbow, a different area than his flexor tendon injury, per Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The right-hander will be shut down until the issue passes before going out on yet another rehab assignment.
The 29-year-old posted a solid 3.05 ERA last year in 73 2/3 innings for the O’s. He struck out 20.5% of batters faced, walked 5.5% and got grounders on 57.4% of balls in play. He reached arbitration for the first time over the winter and is making $1.5MM this year. He can be retained via arbitration for two more seasons before he’s slated to reach free agency after 2025.
Oof this is really unfortunate both for Means and my O’s. I was hoping he would be back even in a diminished starting role due to his surgery recovery. O’s really are going to have to make a move for some reliable consistent starting pitching if they have aspirations for a deep playoff run. Timely hitting and quality defense have covered for a very inconsistent starting rotation.
Let’s hope they keep on winning and make the PO’s. They’re not in a very easy division.
It’s nice to see the O’s back in contention after such a long drought. My team (Cubs) are falling out so I would imagine Marcus Stroman and Drew Smyly could be available. Probably Kyle Hendricks too, if he’s healthy and any good (unlikely). Good luck to the O’s!
Back muscle strain lol. At least he got his Tommy John Surgery out of the way.
Dude, jump off one. Laughing and mocking players getting hurt is for shitbirds and clowns.
More like the incredible amount of never ending injuries in baseball and some of these injuries sound like things that would never stop normal people. That’s the lol. There you go candyazz.
Speaking as someone who has worked in Work Comp, back strains stop “normal people” from working all the time. Maybe not for a job posting on the internet from your couch, but people who actually do physical work and not just spouting off at a keyboard get sidelined from back strains often.
Lol that’s funny stuff!
You are stupid. And an ahole.
Why? Because I think the never ending injuries in baseball has become a joke? The slightest thing puts them out of action for at least 10 days?
This injury is less Tommy John and more Olivia Newton.
Sounds like he got Physical, if you know what I mean.
John means injuries.
John Means business, guy is going to be a boost late in the season like a big trade
That really hurts and sucks. We were depending on getting him back in July. our starting pitching isn’t looking very good and we really needed a guy like him
I can’t imagine he will be ramped up innings-wise to be a regular starter by September, unless they are considering him to be an “opener” , which i hope they are not. So then it becomes a dream of having him work out of the bullpen this year. That could leave the O’s to swing a deal for someone like Lucas Giolito at the deadline.
However they decide to go, it is nice to see the Orioles be a solid contender again. It has been a long time coming.
Has anyone actually watched Os starting pitching over the last month (excluding last night)? Focusing on ERA in May does little to focus on what Wells, Kremer, Bradish and Gibson have been doing. Rodriquez was likely pushed too fast and might need to be back in AAA, but they have a solid core.