Orioles lose pitchers John Means and Tyler Wells for the season; both need elbow surgery

BALTIMORE (AP) — John Means and Tyler Wells will miss the rest of the season because of elbow problems that require surgery, a blow to Baltimore's pitching depth as the Orioles try to defend their AL East title.

General manager Mike Elias announced the status of Means and Wells before Friday night's game against Tampa Bay. Means returned late last season from Tommy John surgery but has made only eight starts since then. Wells made 43 starts over the past two years but only three more in 2024.

The Orioles began the season without starting pitchers Means and Kyle Bradish. Now Bradish is back, but Dean Kremer has missed over a week with a triceps strain — and Means and Wells may not return until after the start of next season.

“I think it's a strong likelihood,” Elias said. “You get the repair, my understanding is that's kind of roughly a 11, 12-month kind of thing, front to back, in terms of getting yourself back on TV, so to speak. It can be longer than that.”

Elias said the two players will have their UCLs repaired. He said it's not clear yet what type of surgery they'll have, meaning the recovery time frames are a bit uncertain.

“It's really disappointing,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Two guys you really pull for. We were hoping for better news.”

Albert Suárez was set to start Friday, with Corbin Burnes, Grayson Rodriguez, Cole Irvin and Bradish rounding out the rotation for now. Kremer could presumably replace Suárez when he returns, which Elias said might potentially be before the end of June.

“I think usually baseball teams try to go into spring training with eight or nine starting pitching options, and now we’re down a couple,” Elias said.

The Orioles have largely withstood their injuries in the rotation so far. Corbin Burnes, acquired in an offseason trade, has looked like an ace. Bradish (1.75) and Irvin (2.84) have both posted impressive ERAs, and Rodriguez has 61 strikeouts in 51 innings. Means was 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA.

Suárez was 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA entering Friday's start, having split time between the rotation and bullpen.

The problem is now Baltimore has only one scheduled off day in June — and the Orioles face the Rays, Blue Jays, Braves, Phillies, Yankees, Astros, Guardians and Rangers in that month. A six-man rotation might be useful for the Orioles, but it's hard to say who else they can use as a starter until Kremer gets back.

“I think we're keeping all options open right now,” Hyde said. “You forecast what you hope the next three weeks is going to look like, but stuff like this happens.”

The Orioles' farm system has been loaded with top prospects, but most of them are position players. Left-hander Cade Povich was 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA for Triple-A Norfolk entering his start Friday.

“Cade is definitely a guy who's on the tip of our tongues right now. He's having a tremendous season in Triple-A,” Elias said. “We're watching every little thing he does. As we enter this stretch now, with all of these games coming up, with no off days, we've had internal dialogue about six-mans for stretches and things like that. He's put himself in position for that type of consideration.”