One of the Baltimore Orioles' best building blocks will miss the entire 2022 MLB season. Left-handed ace John Means announced Saturday that he will undergo Tommy John surgery. The procedure will likely keep Means sidelined until next season.
Means made two starts this season before experiencing elbow pain. He underwent multiple MRIs, which determined Means needed surgery to repair the issue.
Means, 28, said he was "disappointed, but more motivated than ever" upon hearing the news.
Means experienced a strong year in 2019, but made an even bigger impact for the Orioles in 2021. Means posted a 3.62 ERA over 146 2/3 innings with the club. His biggest moment of the season came in May, when Means threw a no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners. Means missed time late in the 2021 season due to shoulder soreness. He's started on opening day the past two seasons.
Orioles off to impressive start on the mound
The injury comes at a disappointing time, as the rest of the Orioles' pitching staff appears to have found another gear this offseason. Despite not having many household names, the Orioles have a 2.80 ERA through 14 games. That figure ranks fifth in all of baseball. The team also has a 3.00 FIP, which ranks fourth.
Jorge López and Bruce Zimmermann are among the team's biggest pitching wins thus far. López has a 2.25 ERA through 8 innings and has saved three games. His strikeout rate is way up, potentially due to increased velocity. After averaging 95.3 mph on his sinker last season, López is averaging 97.9 on the pitch in 2022.
Zimmermann's velocity is down, but his secondary offerings have looked better to start the season. Zimmermann is relying on his changeup more in 2022. The pitch has a 39.5 percent whiff rate, up from last season. He hasn't used his slider as much this season, but he has a 70 percent whiff rate on the pitch in 26 attempts.
Losing Means for the entire season will hurt, but if the Orioles continue to show improvement on the mound, he could return to pretty intriguing staff in 2023.