2. Zack Britton
Understanding that every pitcher at the back end of the Yankees bullpen has been tremendously overworked this season, which will continue to be the case in the wake of Aroldis Chapman’s latest injury, the fact remains: Zack Britton needs to throw more strikes. Needs to.
Britton remains one of the highest-ranking relievers on Aaron Boone’s trust tree, and even seemed to be penciled in as the officially-trademarked CLOSER on Monday night, getting the ninth inning instead of the eighth when a ground ball seemed preferable to whatever Chad Green had to offer.
If you’re judging only based on the timing of his appearances, Britton remains one of the Yankees’ best back-end options. If you’re looking at the box score, though, it’s clear he has yet to find his best footing at all this season, after battling through offseason surgery and a midseason leg issue.
Britton’s ERA of 5.65 is remarkably sub-standard, and it’s been powered by his inability to command his sinker with any regularity, leading to an elevated 1.674 WHIP, the likes of which Yankee fans have never seen since his 2018 arrival.
Side Note: Somehow, Britton persevered in 2017 in Baltimore with a 1.527 WHIP and 2.89 ERA. …How? The double-play ball must’ve been masterful in cleaning up his own messes that year.
This season, though, Britton’s bread and butter hasn’t been giving him much relief. Down the stretch, he’s absolutely going to continue to appear in high-leverage situations, especially considering they’re a habit the Yanks can’t break. We can’t necessarily demand a return to 2019 form, but we need to see the ball flitting in over the plate. No ifs, ands or buts.