John Means returns for the O’s tonight and he’s a sizable underdog here against Shane McClanahan and the Rays. McClanahan’s stuff has been in decline, as mentioned in this Eno Sarris tweet, and he has a 4.68 ERA with a 4.46 FIP in his last seven starts. McClanahan’s spin rates aren’t the issue. I think it could be some fatigue. He hasn’t pitched since July 9, so maybe that will help.
Means hasn’t made an MLB start since June 5, so this will be interesting to watch. He only faced five batters against the Indians and gave up two homers in that start. He hasn’t really been exposed to the no foreign substance rule yet. In three minor league rehab starts, he allowed seven runs on 11 hits. Only five were earned, but he did allow three home runs. He also maxed out at three innings and 16 batters faced.
That means that Means will be on a pitch count tonight. When we look at Means, we also see a guy that was in line for pretty sizable regression anyway. He’s got a 2.28 ERA with a 3.86 xERA, a 4.20 FIP, and a 4.02 xFIP. He had a .192 BABIP against and a 100% LOB% in his 12 starts over 71 innings prior to going on the IL. Means had done a great job limiting walks, but you really do have to wonder about the new environment that he is stepping into.
Means isn’t likely to work deep into the game and the Baltimore bullpen has had its problems throughout the season. The O’s rank 26th in bullpen ERA on the season and do have a much lower FIP at 4.35, but they’ve had lots of issues in middle relief. Those are the guys in the spotlight tonight because Means probably maxes out around 60-70 pitches.
To go further in depth on McClanahan, his Hard Hit% is 40% and his 8.8% Barrel% is a little bit too high as well. The Orioles are not a great offense, as we all know, but they are a top-10 offense against lefties, as they rank seventh in wOBA at .328. That have a low K% in that split and have made a lot of quality contact.
The Rays actually don’t fare super well against lefties, but that element coupled with Tropicana Field leaves us with a total of 7.5 here and I think it is at least a half-run too low and you could maybe even talk me into 8.5 under -115 or -120. I don’t think Means will be in tip-top shape here and the concerns of the decreased stuff quality for McClanahan do end up exacerbated a bit by facing an Orioles lineup that performs well in this split.
Let’s roll with the over down in Tampa.