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Wednesday Bird Droppings: At least it’s John Means Day

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The Orioles are in the midst of their worst stretch of the season so far, but things feel better when John Means is on the mound.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning Birdland,

Watching the Orioles play baseball is not a ton of fun at the moment. They have just two wins in their last 10 games, have slipped to seven games back in the AL East, and continue to have serious issues at Camden Yards.

But guess what, these Orioles do have one thing that no recent version of the club, not even the competitive Buck Showalter-era O’s, had: ace John Alan Means.

Means pitches today for the first time since May 11. He has not allowed a run since April 30. The southpaw was slated to start on Sunday, when Brandon Hyde pushed him back a few days, citing excessive workload as the reason.

That’s reasonable. Means has thrown the most innings on the team, and he is in the vicinity of the top inning-throwers in the entire league so far. Plus, injuries and a pandemic limited him to just 43.2 innings in 2020, a number he has already surpassed at this year’s quarter-mark. It’s wise to protect him, and there is no upside to pitching him into the ground.

The days that John Means pitches are a special occasion. He always appears so dominant and so in control. Even when he doesn’t have a great day he keeps the Orioles well within striking distance.

Maybe an outing from their ace and another day in which the offense puts up six or more runs (as they have the last two games) is what the O’s need to turn things around.

Links & Notes

Hyde and Wilkerson talk about today’s roster move | School of Roch
The DFA of Rio Ruiz in exchange for Stevie Wilkerson was a bit surprising. Ruiz had an option remaining, and it’s not as if Wilkerson is some unknown quantity. He is 29 years old, and not very good. The upside is that Wilkerson is more flexible defensively, and it’s possible that he has made some sort of progress in the last two years that don’t make him any worse than Ruiz at the plate. In that sense, it could be a small improvement.

Harvey: Poor start ‘completely unacceptable’ | Orioles.com
It has been a tough time for Matt Harvey as of late. His ERA has ballooned from a season-low 3.60 on May 7 to 5.93 over his last two outings. He has gone from potential trade chip to at risk of being released with too many more poor starts like this.

Prospect spotlight: O’s like Gonzalez’s power | MLB.com
The graduation of Ryan Mountcastle and Dean Kremer from the Orioles list of top 30 prospects means that Luis Gonzalez now comes it at number 29 on Pipeline’s list of youngsters. He’s only 18, so it could be a long time before we see him in Baltimore, but it’s fun to get to know this next wave of talent, especially those that were international signings.

Tuesday’s top prospect performers | MLB Pipeline
Terrin Vavra gets a mention here for his torrid start to the season with Double-A Bowie. Vavra is not on the Orioles 40-man roster, so don’t get any ideas that he will be promoted sometime soon, but the former Rockies prospect is fitting in nicely, and could emerge on the big league stage sometime in 2022.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Chris Fussell is 45 years old. He appeared in three games for the 1998 Orioles.
  • Ken Gerhart turns 60 years old. From 1986 through 1988 he hit .221/.271/.384 over 215 games as an O’s outfielder.
  • Fritzie Connally celebrates his 63rd. The former third baseman’s O’s career encompassed 50 games during the 1985 season.
  • Dan Ford is 69 today. He served as an outfielder with the Orioles from 1982 through 1985 and hit .249/.298/.384 during that time.

Orioles history

1959 - Orioles pitcher Billy O’Dell hits a 120-foot home run that takes a fortuitous bounce over the outfielder’s head and allows him to round the bases. The O’s beat the White Sox 2-1.

2006 - Melvin Mora puts pen to paper on a three-year extension with the Orioles worth $25 million. The contract also has an option for a four season.