Two years ago, Zach Britton was one of the Orioles great hopes. He won 11 games for the 2011 team, and along with Jake Arrieta, was considered the cream of the team’s developing starters.
An injury to his left shoulder cost Britton the first two months of 2012, and he never really caught up. Britton was 5-3 with a 5.07 ERA in 12 games.
This year, he was in the mix for the fifth starter’s job, but Arrieta beat him out and a disastrous start against Toronto (five runs on seven hits in 1 2/3 innings) hurt him.
He’s been back twice, and had a 2-3 record and 4.76 ERA in six starts. Britton finished six innings just twice, and once was in a start he allowed six runs on 10 hits.
On Wednesday night, Britton gets another chance in Cleveland.
In his two wins, he finished a combined 11 innings and allowed just two earned runs, but walked six.
His stock fell sharply in the organization last year, but recently manager Buck Showalter has had some nice things to say about his performances at Norfolk.
Britton finished 6-5 with a 4.27 ERA, but finished stronger with three wins and a no-decision in his last four starts. In the no-decision, Britton gave up one run on three hits.
His final start was his best, one run on five hits in seven innings, striking out eight without walking a batter. Britton had walked 14 in his previous three starts.
After Chris Tillman’s five walks in 5 1/3, Showalter isn’t going to be in the mood for a repeat, and during his last two years with the Orioles, Britton has walked 47 batters in 94 1/3 innings. A walk every two innings won’t work.
Showalter mentioned recently that Britton won’t have any options remaining next spring.
He has another chance to prove he’s a major league pitcher now. The Orioles would like to keep him for starting or bullpen depth next season, but Britton has to give them a reason why.