More thoughts on Orioles losing Wells and Means from rotation

Kyle Bradish was supposed to be the biggest worry in the Orioles’ rotation.

Bradish was the pitcher diagnosed with the sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He was the pitcher receiving the platelet-rich plasma injection in January, with the possibility of surgery that would end his 2024 season.

We’re a few days away from moving into June and Bradish is still standing. He’s still performing like an ace, mimicking the 2023 version that finished fourth in American League Cy Young voting.

The seven no-hit innings in Chicago came in only his fifth start after the Orioles reinstated him from the injured list. His ERA is 1.75 and his WHIP 1.052, with an average of 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings. And he outlasted Tyler Wells and John Means, who didn’t figure to bow out in April and May, respectively.

Put it high on the list of unexpected developments, maybe No. 1.

Wells trained hard over the winter to get his body in better shape and to become a 30-start pitcher in the rotation. Everything he did was geared toward it. But right elbow inflammation after his third outing put him back on the shelf, and there’s no indication that he’s leaving it anytime soon.

Wells was cleared last week to begin playing catch, but we were told yesterday that he’s still rehabbing in Sarasota. The hope, of course, was that there would be more details about a throwing program, but Wells hasn’t advanced.

Means experienced a noticeable decline in velocity in St. Louis while tossing three scoreless innings, and he sought a second opinion on his elbow. The two concerns here are that it’s his elbow and the first opinion must not have been encouraging.

If you want to do more reading between the lines, which isn’t always accurate, Means didn’t speak with the media after the game and flew back to Baltimore that day.

You rummage for any positive signs and they haven’t been found.

“I’ll announce it to you guys when I have any sort of information regarding Wells or Meansie,” manager Brandon Hyde said yesterday, “but there’s nothing new to report with those guys right now.”

Life’s tendency to be unfair certainly applies here.

Wells has battled back from Tommy John surgery in 2019 and other setbacks, both physical and performance based, and he was determined to be a full-time starter this summer. Means was a ray of light in the darkness of the rebuild, making an All-Star team and throwing a no-hitter, and he also overcame a Tommy John procedure to return to the majors.

Means was robbed of a much-deserved spot on the Division Series roster because of a forearm strain and wasn’t ready for Opening Day. The shocker when compared to Bradish is how Means wasn’t hurt in spring training. He just needed to build up his arm and his innings. Another shutdown wasn’t supposed to be a concern.

We’re also talking about two of baseball’s really good guys. Good things should be happening to them. But we’re back at the unfair thing.

The No. 1 priority at the trade deadline seemed to be the bullpen and might remain that way, but a starter could grow in importance. The rotation has Bradish, Corbin Burnes (who starts tonight), Cole Irvin, Grayson Rodriguez and Albert Suárez filling in for Dean Kremer, who’s out with a right triceps strain but seems to be recovering nicely.

The Orioles wanted to go with a six-man rotation because they have one off-day in June. They really like Suárez in bulk relief or to get late outs, and he seems capable of handling any role. So what happens after Kremer’s back? He’s eligible to return June 5. And does anything happen before that date?

In a quiet move, the Orioles designated Triple-A reliever Kaleb Ort for assignment and lost him to the Astros on a waiver claim. The DFA was the quiet part. The 40-man roster has an opening and executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias could make a waiver claim or trade, or he could promote left-hander Cade Povich, who’s 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA, 1.062 WHIP and .195 average against in 10 appearances and has struck out 71 batters and surrendered only four home runs in 53 2/3 innings. His walks per nine innings are down to 3.2.

Povich started Saturday in Worcester, with the Orioles choosing Suárez to make the start in Chicago, and is available again Thursday on normal rest. The Orioles are off before beginning a three-game series against the Rays at Camden Yards.

* Coby Mayo, on the seven-day minor league injured list with a fractured rib, is expected to begin swinging a bat next week.

Mayo sustained the injury on May 16 while chasing a foul ball and slamming into the third base dugout.

Talk about bad timing. Mayo was batting .291/.359/.605 with 11 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs and 37 RBIs in 42 games, and it appeared that a promotion to the Orioles was getting close. That was the vibe, which broke along with Mayo's rib.


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