John Means' 2020 season is only two starts in, but he's already shown signs of improving after placing second in AL Rookie of the Year voting last year.
According to The Athletic's Eno Sarris, Means has added 3.6 mph to his fastball this season, the largest increase of any starting pitcher in the majors. Though Sarris posted those numbers prior to Means' start against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday, the Orioles' left-hander hovered between 92.7 and 95.8 mph while allowing one run over four and a third innings.
Last season, Means averaged 92.2 mph on his four-seamer but that number jumped to 95.7 mph following his first start. Though that could be attributed to him starting the season fresh, it's worth noting that the fastest pitch he threw all last season was 95.4 mph and he averaged a little over 92 mph over the first month of 2019.
The early results have been a mixed bag for Means. He was lit up by the New York Yankees in his first start then posted a stellar stat line against Miami before was pulled in the fifth to keep his arm fresh after dealing with arm fatigue last month. Means retired 13 batters in a row before Francisco Cervelli hit a solo homer to end his night.
If the Orioles' hot start is a sign of things to come, then Means be leaned upon to play a key role as the team's top arm in the rotation. The 7.71 ERA may be unsightly, but the increased velocity has to have the Orioles feeling good about how he'll perform moving forward.
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