Ways and Means: Hitless in Seattle

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A Means To An End (Of Base Hits)

John Means entered the history books Wednesday night when he tossed the 10th no-hitter in Orioles history against the Seattle Mariners. The southpaw narrowly missed a perfect game due to Seattle outfielder Sam Haggerty reaching on a wild pitch after a strikeout. It was the first non-perfect no-hitter in MLB history in which the pitcher did not record a walk, hit by pitch, or error.

The Orioles ace was untouchable, striking out 12 Mariners while gathering 26 first-pitch strikes out of 27 batters. That is definitely a strong plan for success. Means generated 14 whiffs on his changeup and earned a 35 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs) across his entire arsenal.

The left-hander became the second pitcher in American League history to throw a no-hitter with at least 12 strikeouts and zero walks. The other was Felix Hernandez, who tossed a perfect game back in August of 2012. Means ended a 52-year streak without the Orioles throwing an individual no-hitter (combined no-hitter in 1991).

It has been quite the year in baseball, with four no-hitters already having been thrown before Means' feat on Wednesday. Joe Musgrove ended a 52-year-old streak of his own when he tossed one in April for the Padres, while Carlos Rodon and Madison Bumgarner tossed complete games of their own without allowing a hit. It’s true the Bumgarner gem is not officially acknowledged in the history books as a no-hitter, but for historical purposes, it’s interesting to include the performance.

The most interesting thing about all five of these games? There were no walks thrown. However, no perfect games were recorded. Means due to a wild pitch, Rodon and Musgrove due to hit-by-pitches, and Bumgarner due to a throwing error by Nick Ahmed.

John Means earned a 99 GameScore which tied him for the second-highest in Orioles history with Mike Flanagan (1979) since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954. The only pitcher to hold a higher score was Jerry Walker, who tossed 16 shutout innings to earn a 111. Tough to compete with that.

When asked to put his experience into words, Mean told reporters “I can’t do it. It’s such a crazy feeling.” When prompted about being the first Orioles pitcher to throw a no-hitter since Jim Palmer in 1969, the left-hander added, “...to be in the same breath as Palmer, I don’t think it gets much better than that.”

John Means has the letters “ARM” on his glove, which are the initials of his father Alan who passed away from pancreatic cancer in August. The southpaw said during the television broadcast that he looked into his glove and stared at those initials for a moment before going out for the ninth inning. “He wouldn’t have cared,” according to Means, “He'd just be glad I’m having a good time. I know he was back there telling me what pitch to throw. It’s pretty incredible, It’s pretty incredible.”

It definitely was pretty incredible.

Means now carries a 1.37 ERA and 0.67 WHIP over 46 innings with 50 strikeouts this season. The Orioles ace was one of 21 qualified pitchers with a better than league average O-Swing rate (swings generated out of the strike zone), Z-Contact rate (contact within the strike zone), and swinging-strike rate before Wednesday’s performance. The chance to “buy high” may be gone in fantasy, as Means price will now rapidly approach his actual value.

Pitchers with an EDGE

Sonny Gray vs CWS - 7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 8 K

Gray’s ERA still sits at 3.92 for the season due to a five-run outing vs the Cardinals back on April 23, but the right-hander has allowed just two runs over his last 12 2/3 innings with 19 strikeouts. The 31-year-old generated a 50 percent whiff rate of his curveball Wednesday with a 33 percent CSW overall.

Dallas Keuchel vs CIN - 7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 3 BB, 1 K

This is your typical, non-flashy, stat line from Dallas Keuchel. However, it was a solid pitching duel between the right-hander and the Reds' Sonny Gray. The ground ball artist kept Cincinnati off the basepaths, allowing just two hits and one extra-base hit. Kuechel’s ERA now sits at 3.79 with a 1.21 WHIP after he posted a 1.99 ERA last season over 63 1/3 innings.

Kyle Finnegan vs ATL - 1 IP, 3 K (9 pitches)

Immaculate innings are awesome and they should always be celebrated. Nine pitches, all strikes, for three strikeouts. What is cooler than that? Finnegan now holds a 3.55 ERA on the year with a 1.26 WHIP over 12 ⅔ innings with 17 strikeouts.

Hitters with an EDGE

Jesse Winker vs CWS - 2-for-4, 2B, BB, Walk-off RBI

Winker reached base three times and hit a walk-off RBI single in Wednesday's extra-innings win over the White Sox. The 27-year-old was the only player to tally multiple hits in the pitcher's duel between Sonny Gray and Dallas Keuchel and is now batting .359/.422/.641 with six home runs and 17 RIB in 92 at-bats.

Marcell Ozuna vs WAS - 2-for-4, Grand Slam

The Braves outfielder is batting just .205 on the season but is 8-for-31 with three home runs over his last seven games. Hopefully, this is the spark fantasy managers have been waiting for to get Ozuna going.

Giancarlo Stanton vs HOU - 3-for-4, HR, 2B, 4 RBI, BB

Stanton’s blast off Luis Garcia traveled 435 feet with an exit velocity of 107.2 miles per hour. The Yankees slugger now has more long balls this season than he did over the last two combined and is now batting .314/.363/.590 with eight home runs, five doubles, and 22 RBI.

Priority Pickup

Pete Fairbanks, RP Rays (Available in 81 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues)

The Rays right-hander was just activated from the 10-day injured list the same day Diego Castillo was put on the list. This opens up an immediate opportunity for saves in the Tampa Bay bullpen. Fairbanks posted an impressive 2.70 ERA over 26 2/3 innings last season with a 13.16 K/9 while collecting three saves with a 12.41 K/9 in the postseason. For those desperate for saves, the 27-year-old should be an immediate add, as he could emerge at the head of the committee in short order.

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Closing Time

The Rays placed RHP Diego Castillo on the 10-day injured list with right groin tightness, retroactive to May 4. There is no immediate indication if this is a minor issue or it may require a longer stay on the injured list. In the meantime, Pete Fairbanks (rotator cuff) was activated from the injured list and could be of immediate value in fantasy leagues.

Giants manager Gabe Kapler said Wednesday that Tyler Rogers could begin seeing more save opportunities following Jake McGee’s latest rough outing vs the Rockies (10 runs over last 5 2/3 innings). Rogers has posted a 1.02 ERA and 0.85 WHIP across 17 2/3 innings and should be rostered.

Daniel Bard recorded his third save of the season Wednesday vs the Giants. After walking the first two batters in the top of the ninth inning, Bard settled down to strike out the next two batters. A double steal followed by a throwing error allowed one run to score, but the Rockies closer was able to induce a ground ball to put the game away. This was not an “encouraging” outing and Mychel Givens remains firmly on the radar for future ninth-inning opportunities.

Alex Reyes pitched a clean inning to lock down his ninth save in the first game of a doubleheader versus the Mets on Wednesday. It took just seven pitches to tie a bow on the win, with Reyes looking impressive so far this season.

Will Smith pitched a perfect ninth to earn his sixth save of the season vs the Nationals. The left-hander will need to keep up these strong performances with Chris Martin due back some early this month. Smooth currently has an even 3.00 ERA 16 strikeouts over 12 innings.

Aroldis Chapman struck out a pair en route to locking down his seventh save of the season over the Astros. The right-hander has yet to allow a run this year over 11 innings with 26 strikeouts and 0.45 WHIP. There is no better closer in baseball at the moment.

Jose Alvarado, fresh off suspension, picked up his second save of the season in the Phillies' 5-4 win over the Brewers Wednesday. The left-hander allowed a one-out walk to Lorenzo Cain, who went on to steal second, before striking out Luis Urias and Travis Shaw to end the game.

James Karinchak nailed down his third save of the season after striking out a pair in the ninth in the Indians 5-4 win over the Royals. The flame thrower sat down Michael Taylor and Nicky Lopez swinging to open the ninth, but was able to get Whit Merrifleld to roll over the first pitch he saw to Andres Gimenez to end the game. Karinchak now owns a microscopic 0.64 ERA and 0.36 WHIP over 14 innings this season with 29 strikeouts.

Mark Melancon had a rather hum-drum night, allowing one single and no runs to pick up his eleventh save of the season. The ninth inning consisted of a ground out, single, ground out, and then a very exciting video replay that ended in, you guessed it, a ground out. The 36-year-old has a 0.60 ERA to go along with a 0.47 WHIP as the Padres closer and major league leader in saves.

Thursday’s Matchup of the Day

Lance McCullers (2-1 3.38 ERA)

Gerrit Cole (4-1 1.43 ERA)

There is not much to say here. The two most disliked teams in baseball are sending their aces to the mound in the final game of a three-game set in what should be an amazing matchup. Gerrit Cole boasts a 0.72 WHIP with 60 punchouts over 37 2/3 innings this season with a 2.1 percent walk rate. On the other side of the field, Lance McCullers has been riding his new slider to a 27.3 percent strikeout rate and 1.05 WHIP over 26 2/3 innings. This should be a fun one to watch.

Editor’s Note: Don’t forget to download the NBC Sports EDGE app to receive real-time player news and updates. Plus, it allows you to easily track your favorite players. Get it here!

American League Quick Hits: Anthony Rendon was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left knee contusion … George Springer was placed on the 10-day injured list with a quad injury … Roberto Perez was placed on the 10-day injured list with a fractured ring finger … Alex Verdugo was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup with back tightness as a precaution due to wet field conditions … Twins activated Miguel Sano from the 10-day injured list but placed Alex Kiriloff on the injured list with a right wrist injury … Yankees placed Rougned Odor on the 10-day injured list with a left knee sprain after he collided with Astros catcher Martin Maldonado.

National League Quick Hits: Jacob deGrom expects to miss just one start after being scratched Tuesday with side tightness … Mets placed Brandon Nimmo on the 10-day injured list with a left finger contusion that is retroactive to May 3 … Dylan Carlos left Wednesday’s game early with a right shin injury after fouling a ball off his leg … Buster Posey was removed from Wednesday’s game with a tight right hamstring … Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to pitch in a simulated game Thursday with the hopes of being sent on a rehab assignment soon … Joey Votto was removed from Wednesday's game after being hit on the hand, which was later confirmed to be broken … Dodgers placed Edwin Rios on the injured list with shoulder inflammation after claiming that the injury has impeded his swing early in the season.