clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Monday night Orioles game thread: at Phillies, 7:05 PM

In which the Phillies try to keep their playoff hopes alive, and John Means looks for his first win since July.

New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Right now, the Phillies are on the outside of the playoffs looking in with thirteen games left to play. They’re two games back of the Atlanta Braves for the NL East lead, and 3.5 back of the St. Louis Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card spot. For a team featuring Zack Wheeler, Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto, Didi Gregorius, Rhys Hoskins and the once-fearsome Andrew McCutchen, it’s been a disappointingly unrealized season.

Another opportunity, then, for the Orioles to ruin a team’s remaining playoff chances.

Tonight they attempt to do it with lefty John Means on the mound. Means has been the best thing going for the Orioles rotation all year, and maybe that’s not saying much. After a brilliant April/May where he put together a 2.28 ERA, 0.831 WHIP, and .182 batting average against, Means was sidelined with a shoulder injury that kept him on the IL between June 5 and July 20. Whether due to rust, lingering issues with the shoulder, or MLB’s rollout of the ban on pitchers using sticky substances, he hasn’t been as effective since his return.

Since July, Means is 1-5 with a 4.72 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 61 innings (compared to 71 in 69 innings before the injury). But he’s been better in his last four starts, with a 3.00 ERA, .198 BA against, and 19 K’s in 24 innings of work, which suggests it’s not time to give up on him and his ceiling as a pitcher just yet. It’d be really nice to see if Means can cut through the highs and lows of statistical noise and put together a few solid starts to close out the year.

Against him is a not particularly big-ticket name who’s made himself Philadelphia’s second most valuable pitcher this season (after Wheeler). The 26-year-old Ranger Suárez was a late-innings reliever who pitched to a 1.12 ERA in 27 appearances through the first half of the season, and on July 31, manager Joe Girardi made the snap decision to insert Suárez into the rotation in favor of struggling starters Vince Velasquez and Matt Moore.

In nine starts since August 2, the 26-year-old sinkerballer has a 1.85 ERA with 44 K’s in 43.2 innings. His peripherals are excellent: he’s in the top 5% of the league in drawing weak contact. Suárez throws his sinker 46%, changeup 25%, four-seam fastball 22%, and his slider 6% of the time. None of the Orioles have faced Suárez so far; righties have much better splits against him, which explains tonight’s righty-after-righty lineup. (With the exception of poor John Means, that is, who’s hitting .000 on the season and now has to take lefty-lefty swings against the tough Suárez. Stupid National League.)

Still, sometimes you catch lightning in a bottle. Let’s hope the O’s can stop Suárez’s impressive run.

Orioles lineup

1. Austin Hays LF
2. Ryan Mountcastle 1B
3. Anthony Santander RF
4. Pedro Severino C
5. Ryan McKenna CF
6. Pat Valaika 2B
7. Richie Martin SS
8. Kelvin Gutiérrez 3B
9. John Means P

Phillies lineup

1. Odúbel Herrera CF
2. Jean Segura 2B
3. Bryce Harper RF
4. J.T. Realmuto C
5. Andrew McCutchen LF
6. Matt Vierling 1B
7. Didi Gregorius SS
8. Freddy Galvis 3B
9. Ranger Suárez P