John Means’ uneven start to the 2020 season continued Wednesday, when the Orioles placed the left-hander on the bereavement list following his second start of the season. Means left the team to attend to a family matter, and it is possible he could miss his next scheduled start this weekend against the Nationals.
If Means can’t pitch, right-hander Thomas Eshelman would be the most likely candidate to start in his place. Eshelman pitched 3 1/3 innings Tuesday in long relief of Means, allowing a run in his season debut. He made four starts for the O’s last season, going 1-2 with a 6.50 ERA in 10 appearances overall.
“I wouldn’t know yet [if Means can start this weekend],” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We’re going to give him some space and some time.”
Players must stay on the bereavement list for at least three days but cannot remain for longer than seven. The Orioles did not replace Means on the active roster, and they must parse their 30-man roster down to 28 on Thursday, per MLB rules.
The O’s lone All-Star a year ago, Means is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in his first two starts of 2020, both truncated outings as he builds up from a bout of left arm fatigue. Means began the year on the injured list and missed one start due to the issue, then allowed five runs in his debut last week against the Yankees. He pitched much better in Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to Miami, but he was removed after 4 2/3 innings due to pitch count issues.
Means added close to 3 mph of average fastball velocity throwing into a mattress during quarantine in his native Kansas City, and also pitching to his brother, Jake -- a third baseman in the Royals system -- in controlled settings. Means returned to K.C. this week to address the family matter.
Down on the farm
The Orioles were well-represented again when MLB Pipeline released its updated list of baseball’s Top 100 Prospects on Tuesday, scoring four blue-chippers on the list.
Three are repeat inclusions and one is a new face, with 2020 first-rounder Heston Kjerstad debuting at No. 68 overall. Kjerstad was one of 13 fresh additions to the list from the first round of this year’s Draft, a group that bounced Ryan Mountcastle (previously No. 94) out of the top 100. Kjerstad, the No. 2 overall pick, was the eighth-ranked first-rounder from his Draft class.
All told, four Orioles made the cut:
From the trainer’s room
Limited to pinch-hitting duties for much of the past week, José Iglesias (sore left quad) returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Saturday. Iglesias served as the designated hitter and No. 3 hitter for Game 1 of Wednesday’s doubleheader, while Andrew Velazquez started at shortstop for the fifth straight game.
Signed as a free agent last winter for his defensive ability, Iglesias has been a bright spot with the bat in the early going, hitting .526 with five doubles and a 1.316 OPS through six games.