Means flashes mattress-fueled velocity increase
Orioles All-Star left-hander John Means credits the tantalizing increase in velocity he displayed in his 2020 debut Thursday to throwing into a mattress in his garage throughout the lengthy quarantine the coronavirus pandemic required.
“I had a lot of time to myself,” Means said. “Sometimes it’s better off with that sort of catch play because you’re not really worried about where it’s going. [You’re] just focusing in on your motion and how your body feels.”
Means said he used the quarantinemattress sessions to work on keeping his front side closed more, allowing him to better stay on plane toward home plate.
In Thursday’s start against the New York Yankees, Means’ fastball averaged 95.2 mph, a large spike from 2019’s 91.7 mph, per Statcast. His average changeup velocity was also higher, at 84.1 mph compared to 80.9 mph last year.
Unfortunately for Means, the Yankees couldn’t offer the same spring-loaded comfort, tagging him for five runs in the first inning en route to the shortest start of his young major-league career in what became an 8-6 Orioles loss at Camden Yards.
But there were plenty of positive takeaways for Means in the outing. He generated nine swinging strikes among his 51 pitches; at 17.6%, that was the third-highest rate of any start of his career.
His first pitch of the night was tracked by Statcast to be 94.7 mph, matching his highest velocity from 2019. He topped that mark 13 times in the first inning alone, touching 96 mph six times.
“I probably made one bad pitch, and that was the home run,” Means said. “But other than that, I thought my stuff was good.”
Means was initially announced as the Orioles’ Opening Day starter, but he instead began the year on the injured list with a bout of arm fatigue.