Zack Britton had a UCL reconstruction and repair (Tommy John surgery), in addition to a bone chip removal. That puts him out at least until the end of the 2022 season.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) September 9, 2021
It’s a tough blow for a Yankees team that is also currently without top right-handed setup man Jonathan Loaisiga with a shoulder injury.
Given the loss of Zack Britton ame Aroldis Chapman’s recent penchant for late-inning arson, this is a crushing blow for the Yankees, even if they do hold onto the Wild Card spot https://t.co/tM2lVNphMR
— Jay Jaffe (@jay_jaffe) September 5, 2021
Britton’s surgery is, essentially, Tommy John, and that’s why his 2022 season is in danger.
According to Yankees manager Aaron Boone, the pitcher could potentially be an option late next year, but it’s not a given.
A Disappointing 2021 Season Marred By Injuries
The injury puts an end to a disappointing year for the southpaw, who finishes 2021 with a 5.89 ERA in 18.1 innings.
His nightmarish 2021 started late, as he rehabbed from spring elbow surgery.
He returned, and soon thereafter, he injured his hamstring.
Upon coming back yet again, it was clear he was not the same pitcher who has dominated hitters with his combination of ground balls and strikeouts.
Overall, Britton couldn’t find the zone this campaign, evidenced by his career-high 6.87 walks per nine innings.
He was used as closer when Aroldis Chapman was undergoing some issues, and mostly couldn’t get the job done.
His elbow essentially forced him to stop and hit the reset button.
Despite his forgettable year, that doesn’t mean his Yankees tenure has been a failure.
To the contrary, it can be considered a success ever since he came via trade from Baltimore.
After landing on the Yankees in the summer of 2018, Britton pitched 25 innings of a 2.88 ERA, with 21 strikeouts and a 1.16 WHIP.
The 2019 season was another success for Britton in pinstripes.
That year, the left-hander finished with a 1.91 ERA in 61.1 frames, becoming one of the most powerful late-inning weapons for Boone.
The 2020 shortened season was another hit for Britton, who finished with a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings, even adding eight saves for good measure.
His only down year in the Bronx has been 2021, and it’s very likely that his elbow and hamstring affected his delivery and performance.
A Proven Postseason Performer
Britton has also been good in the postseason: in eight playoff series combining his stints with the Orioles and the Yankees, he has a 3.13 ERA in 23 frames.
With the Yankees, he had a fantastic performance in the 2020 American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, twirling four scoreless frames with six punchouts.
A year before, he was great against the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series, with 5.2 scoreless innings.
Britton may not have the best walk rate or strikeout rate, but he is excellent at keeping the ball on the ground with his sinker, which minimizes damage.
Overall, he would receive an A- grade during his stint with the Yankees, and the only thing preventing him from getting an A or an A+ is his 2021 performance.
When he is healthy and right, Britton is one of the most reliable left-handers in baseball, and for the Yankees, getting him back to full health before the end of the 2022 season will undoubtedly be a priority.