The Orioles will have to wait a bit longer to get back their ace pitcher.
Lefty John Means will not make another start in the first half of the season as he recovers from a strained left shoulder. He has been in Sarasota, Fla., rehabbing the injury and is expected to start throwing side sessions in the coming days.
“I would expect him at some point after the All-Star break,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said.
Means was forced to leave against the Cleveland Indians June 5 after facing just five batters with shoulder tightness. He underwent an MRI that revealed the strain.
Means suffered through the same injury in 2019. He also opened the 2020 season on the IL with shoulder fatigue.
“It’s very, very similar to what he had in 2019, so no structural changes in his shoulder,” Hyde said. “It’s pretty much a sore shoulder.”
Means is 4-2 with 2.28 ERA, which ranked 12th in the majors and third in the American League at the time of the injury. He also has a 0.83 WHIP, which was first in the AL.
Wells Could Get Start
The Orioles could use another dependable arm for the starting rotation and right-hander Tyler Wells is a likely candidate, according to Hyde.
“I wouldn’t rule anything out right now, but I think it’s definitely a possibility,” Hyde said. “You never know what’s going to happen the rest of the year, but we’re comfortable where he is right now getting the experience that he is in the bullpen.”
Wells was selected by the Orioles in the Rule 5 Draft from the Minnesota Twins Dec. 10 after missing the 2019 season because of Tommy John surgery and the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He is 2-0 with 4.01 ERA in 21 games and 33.2 innings, the second most of any Orioles reliever behind Adam Plutko. He leads all rookie relievers with 42 strikeouts.
At the beginning of the season, Hyde used Wells sparingly as he gained more confidence in the reliever. Now, Wells is a go-to pitcher out of the bullpen and Hyde is confident that he has the potential to be a starter.
“He’s starting to pitch in some big spots in games and I’m excited about giving him that opportunity because I really like the guy’s stuff,” Hyde said. “I wouldn’t rule anything out because we’re keeping our options open with him.”
Road Woes Continue
The Orioles extended their franchise-record road losing streak to 20 games with a 9-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo June 24.
The Orioles are tied with the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics for the second-longest road skid in American League history. The Athletics hold the record with 22 consecutive losses in 1943.
“We just have not played good on the road the past month and a half or whatever it is,” Hyde said. “I don’t feel like it’s different than last year or two years ago. There’s nothing special that’s happening on the road that’s different, so I don’t know the reason.”
Dean Kremer endured his seventh consecutive loss, allowing six runs and two hits while recording just one out. He also became the first Orioles starter to issue five walks and retire only one batter in an outing, according to STATS.
Kremer’s spot in the rotation is uncertain. He has not won a game since Sept. 6, 2020.
“I think it could be a combination of things,” Kremer said. “I think right now it’s more mental than physical, but it’s just something that I’m going to have to chip away at from week to week. I’m going to go back and watch video and hopefully come to a conclusion here soon and work through the steps to continue to get better.
“Obviously, it’s not going as I had hoped or as I’m sure the front office hopes, but it’s something I’ve got to take one step at a time. Can’t really get bogged down by every failure.”
The Orioles also lost to the Astros 13-0 on June 23, and are the first team to lose by at least nine runs in consecutive shutouts since the St. Louis Browns in 1936.
The Orioles have the worst record in the AL at 23-52 and are 11-26 on the road.
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