Luckily for Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter said that nobody’s playing themselves out of a rotation spot with one lackluster start. Britton’s line from yesterday’s game: 1.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 1 K. Showalter was also quick to point out that for the most part Britton had pitched well in Florida, although this was a “less-than-what-he’s-capable-of start.” While I would submit that pitchers generally have 10 good starts, 1o bad starts, and 10 “in between” starts over the course of a season, this might not have been the time to have a would-be bad start. Britton is in the midst of competing with several other guys in the 5th starter competition, although again Showalter said that Britton had looked good overall in the spring.
Britton’s issue yesterday seemed to be that his sinker wasn’t sinking, which has been a challenge for him since coming to the big leagues. Last season he developed a four-seamer which seemed to work at times, but Britton’s issue has seemed to be that he can’t consistently get those pitches over for strikes. In terms of the actual game, with Toronto leading 5-0 J.J. Hardy and Nolan Reimold delivered back-to-back home runs in the last of the second, an inning in which Nate McLouth also homered. That cut Toronto’s lead to 5-3. Reimold would homer again in the third, as would Chris Davis to tie the game at five. Brian Roberts‘ two-out RBI single in that same inning would give the Birds the lead for good at 6-5. Later in the game Roberts would foul a ball off his foot, however Buck Showalter indicated that Roberts was expected to start tonight against Pittsburgh in Sarasota.
Going back to Britton, he said after the game that he still feels he can make the club. Mentally it sounds like he’s in the right place, which is a good thing. However he also seemed acutely aware of the fact that there’s only one full week left in camp, and things are winding down. Even in he doesn’t necessarily announce it to the media, I suspect that manager Buck Showalter might start putting guys into a rotation of sorts starting next week.The Orioles’ final spring game is Saturday, March 30th against the New York Mets. They’ll spend Sunday packing up camp and then have a workout at Tropicana Field on Monday April 1st before the April 2nd opener at Tampa.
Personally I think that a sinkerballer like Britton (and a southpaw at that) would be a huge asset to the Orioles’ rotation. However with his spring ERA ballooning to 6.10 with this one outing, it definitely has to give Buck Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair pause. If Britton’s past is any indication I believe that he’ll rebound fairly strong in his next outing. However that in and of itself is part of the problem the Orioles have seemed to always have with Britton in that he hasn’t been able to consistently turn in strong outings. Again, sometimes pitchers have days where things just aren’t clicking the way they should be. Britton picked a bad time to have that happen, but if Showalter’s comments and Britton’s attitude are any indication he’s not out of this fight yet.