Baltimore Orioles: The Shredder likes Zach Britton for 2018
Even though he will start the season on the DL, Baltimore Orioles Zach Britton is still considered one of the best relief pitchers in the MLB.
Unfortunately, only one list included the Baltimore Orioles All-Star closer as a top reliever for 2018.
The latest lists from MLB Network include the top relief pitchers right now. The lists were created by Brian Kenny, Dan Plesac, and the MLB’s “The Shredder”.
Only The Shredder’s list included Britton.
Mike Petriello of MLB.com recapped the MLB Network episode and included his own list sans Britton.
Where Britton ranked
The Shredder placed Britton in the sixth spot behind Archie Bradley of the Arizona Diamondbacks and ahead of Corey Knebel of the Milwaukee Brewers. At the top of the list, The Shredder had Kenley Jansen, Andrew Miller, Craig Kimbrel, and Chad Green.
The Shredder’s list varied the most from the lists crafted by humans. It did not include Wade Davis or Pat Neshek. The humans’ lists did not include Brad Hand or Raisel Iglesias like The Shredder’s list did.
Why these lists varied
According to episodes of MLB Network’s “Top 10 Right Now,” The Shredder is a math program that analyzes statistics. So, this program would not take into account the fact that Britton will not be pitching at the beginning of the 2018 season. But, it would take into consideration the numbers that Britton had in 2017.
In 2016, Britton had a career-best season with an ERA of 0.54 and a WHIP of 0.836. He was practically unhittable. In both 2014 and 2015, his ERA numbers were also sub-two. So, when factoring in his 2017 ERA of 2.89 (which still isn’t bad), and the rest of his recent career, it is easy to see why he ranked where he did.
Even though Britton had his worst season since being added to the bullpen, his numbers were still notable. He did not have the same save opportunities that pitchers like Jansen and Knebel had because of his injuries. On the positive side, he only gave up one home run in 37.1 innings of work.
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Tough recovery from Achilles injuries
Could Britton return to his 2016 form when he returns from his injury? Hopefully. Historically, this injury has not been kind to players who return to their teams in other sports like the NFL and the NBA. But, Britton is a relief pitcher, not a running back or a power forward. As a pitcher in the AL, he doesn’t even have to bat. If all goes well, he could be the same old Britton. But, it is really a big if.
The last pitcher to return from Achilles repair is Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals. Prior to his surgery in 2015, he consistently pitched with ERAs around three. After his surgery, he didn’t. In 2016, his ERA was 4.62 and he led the NL in hits and earned runs. In 2017, he pitched a 5.11 ERA, but his other numbers were down. Hopefully, for him, his 2018 season will be better.
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Fortunately, the O’s bullpen is loaded with talent, so Britton can take his time and do what the doctors tell him to do. However, it is safe to say that the fans and the team eagerly await his return.