Baltimore Orioles: Could the Astros leave town with a new closer?

BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 16: Zach Britton
BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 16: Zach Britton /

The Baltimore Orioles vs. Houston Astros series could not come at a more unusual time.

The Baltimore Orioles have one of the best closers in the business. And, the Astros are rumored to want one, specifically the one named Zach Britton.

While the Astros already have one of the best set up guys in Chris Devenski, they do not have the same power in the ninth.

Their current closer is Ken Giles, a 26-year-old righty. He’s got an ERA of 3.31 and has saved 20 of the 22 games in which he has had opportunities. Three other relievers have closed out games including Devenski, Luke Gregerson, and Will Harris. Between these three other relievers, they have actually saved fewer than 50% of the games when they have had the opportunity.

Britton’s stellar numbers

While the Astros are visiting Camden Yards, their scouts will most likely keep a close eye on Britton. They already know what he is capable of after his stellar 2016 season. Britton had the most saves in the AL with 47 and he finished the most games in the AL with 67.

Britton was so good in 2016 that he finished fourth in the Cy Young voting.

Britton’s 2016 season was no fluke as he did the same thing in 2015. He finished 58 games, which was the most in the AL.

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Of course, Britton has not had the same numbers in 2017 because of his forearm issue. But, he’s still a closing pitcher to fear with his 1.80 ERA. In his last three years, Britton has an ERA of 1.28 with 88 saves. He has only given up four home runs in that time period of 147 innings pitched.

It is easy to see why the Astros would have an interest in him.

The Astros have prospects

On MLB Network, baseball guru Peter Gammons spoke about a potential trade between the Astros and Orioles on MLB Central. He spoke about how the Astros would benefit from adding Britton to their roster, but that the team might be reluctant to give up prospects for him.

The Astros have done very well building their team from the inside and they certainly have prospects that the Orioles could use. According to the MLB Pipeline, four of the Astros’ top 10 prospects are right-handed pitchers. One that could be of interest is Forrest Whitley, a 19-year-old pitcher who stands 6’7.

According to Mark Hulet with FanGraphs,

"“The 6-7 right-hander [Whitley] has a mid-90s heater, plus breaking ball and four-pitch repertoire… everything needed to be a top-of-the-rotation arm, if he stays healthy.”"

And, according to the MLB Pipeline, Whitley is not the top pitcher in the Astros’ farm system. There are two others ahead of him in the rankings: Francis Martes and David Paulino. These men have already seen a few innings in the majors. Martes is considered the top prospect in the organization and the 15th overall.

Since Brad Brach has proven to be a substantial closer in Britton’s place, getting some young players in exchange for Britton is not a bad idea.

Next: Three big Orioles wins against the Rangers

Now that teams have begun to get busy trading big pieces for prospects, the Orioles could start to get into the mix. The New York Yankees brought in three big players and gave the Chicago White Sox a plethora of prospects. The Detroit Tigers have also given away one of their prize pieces, too. And, the Seattle Mariners added a Marlin to their mix. Could the Orioles be the next team to get a haul of prospects for a top player? This weekend could deliver the answer.