Yankees: Zack Britton has strange excuse for bullpen’s struggles

Zack Britton #53 of the New York Yankees in action against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on September 01, 2020 in New York City. New York Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Zack Britton #53 of the New York Yankees in action against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on September 01, 2020 in New York City. New York Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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Yankees reliever Zack Britton thinks the empty stadiums are messing with the team’s bullpen.

Just because the Yankees got an unexpected day off on Thursday does not mean they got a day off from reckoning with their own struggles.

In fact, while battling back a deluge of injury-related news that might’ve been more overwhelming than the storm that threatened the Bronx and resulted in a key game’s cancellation, team members took the time to muse about the recent slump they find themselves mired in.

For the vast majority of this highly strange season, nothing about the team’s effort has felt coordinated. When the offense strikes, the pitching rests. When both conspire to hand a lead to the vaunted bullpen, they usually don’t hold it.

But if the fan-less games feel a little “dead” to you at home, rest assured that the players on the field feel the same way. In fact, they think it’s affecting the action, specifically in the late innings.

Zack Britton revealed to the media on Thursday that the Yankees bullpen thinks the empty stadiums have a little something to do with their recent pratfalls. Specifically, with no one in stands putting any sort of pressure on a hitter to take a swing, why would they ever chase a breaking ball?

It’s fair to regard this with a heavy dose of skepticism. After all, Adam Ottavino questioned the Blue Jays’ ability to pick up on his pitches earlier this week, and a lot of loud noise was made about the lighting system in Buffalo, too.

But these men thrive on feel, and if something feels wrong, it’s going to affect them.

Of course, plenty of other bullpens have managed to avoid similar issues — though perhaps the Rays are used to the conditions, considering their home stadium is usually empty.

Any way you slice it, though, the Yankees’ efforts have been monumentally bad in recent weeks (months?).

We’re not confident we can accept this excuse at face value, but if something’s going on that won’t be a problem next year, we would be down with that.

To think that empty seats could affect a relief appearance more than a packed house full of drooling fans, though … that seems a little wayward.