HomeTeamsOriolesOrioles Lose Starting Pitchers Tyler Wells and John Means for 2024 Season

Orioles Lose Starting Pitchers Tyler Wells and John Means for 2024 Season

The Baltimore Orioles got some bad news on May 31st: two of their starting pitchers, LHP John Means and RHP Tyler Wells, would be undergoing season-ending UCL surgeries and putting an end any hopes of returning in 2024. It is currently unknown whether or not Wells and/or Means will require Tommy John Surgery, which both have already had earlier in their careers, so the exact timetable for return is not available.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Orioles were looking at a big group of starting pitchers and there were even rumors of trying out a six-man rotation, but due to injuries, their rotation is currently looking like this:

  1. RHP Corbin Burnes
  2. RHP Grayson Rodriguez
  3. RHP Kyle Bradish
  4. RHP Albert Suarez
  5. LHP Cole Irvin

Without the likes of Means, Wells, and Kremer, the latter of which is projected to return in late June or early July, the Orioles rotation looks quite a bit less formidable than it did at the beginning of the season. Despite these injuries, the Orioles rotation has a combined 3.03 ERA as of May 31st, which is good for 3rd best in MLB, even after a combined 7 starts from Wells and Means and trips to the IL from Bradish, Rodriguez, and Kremer. This is in large part thanks to wonderful early-season performances from LHP Cole Irvin and RHP Albert Suarez.

After a down year in which he was demoted to the bullpen for a time, Cole Irvin has bounced back to record a 2.84 ERA and 3.45 FIP across 50.2 IP in 10 games (8 starts). His return to form has given the Orioles a huge boost in the rotation amid the plethora of injuries, but there remains the question of whether or not he can continue to perform at the level he has this season or if he will regress.

Albert Suarez, who has had a long and tumultuous career, has finally found success in MLB. After getting non-tendered by the Giants following the 2017 season, Suarez played four seasons overseas in the NPB and KBO before signing a minor league contract with the Orioles in September 2023. He made his return to the big leagues on April 17th, 2024, and has been a boon for an injury-plagued Orioles pitching staff since then. In 34.1 innings and 12 games (5 starts), Suarez has pitched to a 1.57 ERA and a 2.78 FIP with 29 Ks to 10 BBs and just one home run allowed. Like with Irvin, there is the question of whether or not this success is sustainable, but in the short term, he is doing a fantastic job in keeping the rotation from completely falling apart.

While the focus may be on the 2024 season, and rightfully so, some attention needs to be paid to the future of the rotation. Corbin Burnes will be a free agent at the end of the season and is sure to come with a hefty price tag if the Orioles want to resign him. John Means, who was an All-Star in 2019 and threw the 6th no-hitter in Orioles history against the Mariners in 2021, is also poised to be a free agent come season’s end, leaving his future uncertain following his injury. Albert Suarez will become a free agent, too. Whether or not the Orioles will be able to keep any of them is very much up in the air financially, as other young stars like Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman will be expecting to get big extensions if the Orioles want them to stay in Baltimore.

No matter what happens, the Orioles will need reinforcements for their pitching staff this season, whether that come from the farm system or from a trade. The team’s top two pitching prospects Chayce McDermott (Orioles #8 prospect per MLB Pipeline) and Cade Povich (#9 prospect) are both close to making their major league debuts. There will also be quality starters on the trade market, including LHP Jesus Luzardo, RHP Trevor Williams, and possibly even former Orioles RHP Kyle Gibson. As long as the rotation can continue to perform close to as they have for the first couple of months and if some moves are made to help bolster the pitching, the Orioles will be very dangerous this season and will be a force to be reckoned with in October.


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