Zach Britton strengthens the bullpen and improves the bridge to Chapman, but he helps the New York Yankees in another significant way.
When you didn’t think the New York Yankees bullpen could get any better, GM Brian Cashman pulled off some wizardry and got one of the top closers in the game today—Zach Britton. Despite his struggles against the Royals on Saturday, Britton is still one of the best in the game.
But the talk of the trade deadline for the Yankees hasn’t been about their bullpen needing work, it’s been about their starting rotation.
When you get past potential Cy Young, Luis Severino and veteran CC Sabathia, it’s really a toss-up with what you’re going to get out of Sonny Gray and Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees nabbed J.A. Happ from the Blue Jays, but much like the rotation as a whole, he’s anything but a sure thing.
However, maybe adding Zach Britton can help their starting rotation more than Happ or any other acquisition could.
Zach Britton over the course of his tenure in Baltimore posted 139 saves while striking out 426 batters in 517.2 innings of work. The Yankees already have two relievers with over 100 saves each in Aroldis Chapman and David Robertson. So where does Britton fit into all of this?
Chapman is still the everyday closer, however, with Chapman’s knee tendonitis still acting up, Britton may have the opportunity to fill in as the closer every now and then if necessary. The bullpen is obviously deep if Britton is one of the backup closers.
Now, going back to the starting rotation trouble the Yankees are facing, Zach Britton might be the answer to that situation as the Yanks get closer and closer to the playoffs.
According to Craig Edwards of Fangraphs, the Yankees didn’t really need to get Britton. However, adding another stud out of the bullpen can always help stabilize the unreliable starting rotation. If the Yanks don’t have a lot of confidence in the fourth or fifth starter in the rotation, they can make moves to their bullpen even earlier than they prior to the Britton addition.
With the southpaw joining the Bronx Bombers, his main reason to be there is to put up zeros and shorten the game for his starting pitchers.
This tactic could definitely work come playoffs as we saw a few years ago with the Cleveland Indians and Andrew Miller. Whenever the Indians were in trouble early in the game, skipper Terry Francona would yank the starter, and go to their reliable bullpen to finish off the game.
Now the Yankees have more than enough firepower in their bullpen to do that on a consistent basis, plus, it could save the starters from throwing too much in the regular season.
In addition to trying to win ballgames and catch up to the red-hot Boston Red Sox, Cashman wanted Britton, not only for his electric stuff from the left side. But he also didn’t want the Red Sox, Astros, or Cubs to get their hands on him, wrote Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Smart move by the veteran GM.
The excitement of Britton goes further than the front office, however. The Yankees and fellow bullpen pitchers are thrilled to get the southpaw in pinstripes.
“It shortens the game, even more,” Betances told Pete Caldera of the North Jersey Record. “And I think we’re all excited if it’s true, to have him in our pen.”
Well Dellin, it certainly is true.