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When John Means returns, the Orioles rotation around him will be different — and better — than the one he leaves


Across 4 paragraphs, white textual content on a black background posted to Twitter, the gut-wrenching actuality settled in concerning 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 situation 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 record designation. It went from tightness to an elbow pressure to an elbow sprain.

The elbow reconstruction surgical procedure leaves the left-hander staring down a minimum of a year-long restoration.

At the tip of that four-paragraph replace, nevertheless, was a glimpse towards the long run. “I’ll be back,” Means wrote. And he can 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 crew he left this season will most probably look a lot totally different. He’ll come again because the main man in an up-and-coming rotation, one boasting three prime prospects because 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 significant setback for a pitcher who aimed to achieve 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 mentioned the lack of the crew’s ace wouldn’t speed up the promotions of any prospects. But three pitchers ought to quickly discover their method to the massive leagues — and if all goes in response to plan, they need to stick within the rotation going ahead.

Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, baseball’s prime pitching prospect, may arrive by midsummer. He’s blown his approach via 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 response to 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 record 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 instructed 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 transferring ahead, taking a step ahead this season. The southpaw, with a changeup-heavy arsenal akin to Means’, grew to become the primary Orioles starter since Jim Palmer in 1978 to start the season with a minimum of 14 scoreless innings.

Adding Means to that group of 4 would arrange a rotation that appears — a minimum of on paper — able to competing within the American League East. Means stays underneath crew management via 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 sudden 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 kinds to the burn Means’ prognosis leaves on the 2022 marketing campaign.

It’ll take a 12 months, 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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