After an uneventful first few weeks of spring training, Zack Britton has snagged the award for first Yankee on the 2021 Injured List.
Britton, who dealt with a Covid-19 diagnosis in January that set his offseason training back, hadn’t yet pitched in a spring training game. After his most recent bullpen session, he complained of elbow soreness which, as any good Yankee fan would know, means a trip to the MRI machine.
Soon after the MRI was taken, the Yankees organization announced that Zack will return to New York Wednesday to undergo arthroscopic surgery to remove a pesky bone chip from his left elbow.
LHP Zack Britton is expected to return to New York tomorrow and will undergo orthoscopic surgery to remove a bone chip from his left elbow in the upcoming days. The surgery is expected to be performed by Dr. Christopher Ahmad at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 9, 2021
Although Aaron Boone didn’t put a timetable on a return, Britton could be out of commission for about six weeks after his surgery, after which he will need to work to build back up his arm strength. This means Britton could possibly be out for 3-4 months, slotting him for a late June/ early July return.
Told that Zack Britton will be shut down for about six weeks, then will have to build up. Roughly 3-4 months absence total is the expectation.
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) March 9, 2021
Next man up…..again
Britton, who the Yankees just locked up through 2022 by exercising his option, has been the team’s most reliable relief pitcher. During his three seasons with the team, he has a 2.34 ERA, and in 2020 gave up ZERO home runs during both the regular and postseason. Most notably, Britton has a career ground ball rate right around 75% making him exactly what the Yankees need in the late innings.
The Yankees will need to find a way to replace Britton’s notorious sinker with something equally as effective, which is going to be a nearly impossible task.
The Yankees will need to rely on some familiar faces like Jonathan Loaisiga or Nick Nelson, and some new blood like lefty Justin Wilson and side-arm pitcher Darren O’Day to fill in during the late-innings. Non-roster invitee Lucas Luetge, who has impressed so far during camp, could also be an option in the pen.
Brian Cashman certainly spent this offseason methodically constructing a deep pitching staff, but as we know, you can never have too much pitching.