I am not one to use small sample sizes to draw a conclusion on a player. Jameson Taillon is an example of why you need to have patience and give players time to hit their stride. The only position in which that can change on a dime is with relievers. They’ll have some rough patches in a season, but they come back to form. Zack Britton right now is in a rut, and it’s starting to really cost this team.
The Yankees have refused to turn away from him in high leverage moments, and it’s to their detriment. This isn’t to blame Boone, a manager can only do so much, but I think after the debacle at the Field of Dreams, it would greatly benefit the Yankees if they relegated Britton to lower leverage moments. We’ve seen other relievers step up , and a demotion of his role could help Britton rediscover his old ways.
Regression Across the Board
This is the second time in the last week in which Britton walked a bottom of the order batter and it led to blowing the save. He has a career-high 17.4% BB%, and while he’s always walked people, he’s never had a high HR rate. 15.2 IP is a small sample size, but to have a 1.15 HR/9 rate is concerning.
When you’re giving up walks and home runs, it’s usually a sign of disaster, unless you can get a ton of strikeouts. The issue is that Britton’s K% is the lowest it’s been since 2013. Injuries have played a huge factor, as his sinker lost 2 MPH, so is there no hope for Britton?
The Light At the End of the Tunnel
Britton is only getting barreled at a 4.7% rate and has a mere .288 xwOBA against. In his last 6 outings before the disaster at the Field of Dreams, he also posted a below 9% BB% and had a 2.42 SIERA and 3.00 ERA. He had looked a lot sharper and showed his ability to get big double plays for a solid run, and I think he’s due to go on a run, but he can’t keep being tossed in the 8th or 9th inning. Give him the Wandy Peralta innings and see what he can do.
I’m confident that when Britton is somewhat able to locate his sinker he’s a really good reliever. He’s a groundball machine, and it helps him get double plays when he walks guys. He has to get right, but high leverage moments aren’t the place to try to get fixed.