Eight things to know about newest Yankee Zach Britton
Late Tuesday night, the Yankees swung a deal with the Orioles for longtime Baltimore closer Zach Britton. The trade -- which marks the first time the Yankees and O's have made an in-season trade since 1989 -- makes an already incredibly talented and deep Yankees bullpen even better.
While the Yankees and their fans have been watching Britton toss against the Bronx Bombers for years, here are eight things to know about the newest shutdown arm to put on the pinstripes.
He gives the Yankees a bullpen full of proven closers
By acquiring Britton, the Yankees are now the only team in baseball to have three relievers with at least 100 career saves. Britton joins former Yankees closer David Robertson and current Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman on that list.
He used to be a starting pitcher
Britton was hailed as one of the top prospects in the Orioles' farm system as a starter, but struggled mightily in that role upon reaching the big leagues in 2011. After two more underwhelming seasons in 2012 and 2013, the Orioles moved him to the bullpen in September 2013, believing that his arm might work better in shorter stints.
Oh, boy, were they right. Assuming the closer role a month and a half into the 2014 season, Britton never looked back and has been one of the most consistent shutdown late-inning pitchers in baseball ever since.
He's dominated the Red Sox
Britton has come out of the bullpen against the Red Sox 29 times in his career. In those 35 2/3 innings, he's allowed only four earned runs against the Yankees' biggest rival.
He had one of the greatest relief seasons of all time
Back in 2016, Britton somehow allowed only four runs in 67 innings -- that's a comical 0.54 ERA -- while going a perfect 47-for-47 in save opportunities. After giving up an earned run to the White Sox on April 30, Britton didn't allow a single earned run for almost four months until Aug. 24 against the Nationals.
He basically only throws one pitch
Since becoming a full-time reliever at the start of the 2014 season, Britton has used his sinker 90 percent of the time. The pitch -- which he throws in the mid to high 90-mph range and also features heavy downward movement that is exceedingly rare for a pitch that fast -- has become Britton's bread and butter. Now, he rarely throws anything else.
And why would you, when a pitch is this nasty?
He successfully saved 60 games in a row
From the end of the 2015 season through the middle of the 2017 season, Britton did not blow a single save. His streak is the second longest in MLB history behind Dodgers legend Eric Gagne's 84 game streak from 2002-2004.
He didn't pitch in the 2016 Wild Card Game
In a surprise move, manager Buck Showalter opted to save Britton for a save situation in the 2016 AL Wild Card Game in Toronto. But, that moment never came as Britton never got into the 11-inning game and watched Edwin Encarnacion's iconic walk-off against Ubaldo Jimenez from the bullpen.
No one gets more ground balls
Since 2014, a whopping 76.2 percent of balls put in play against Britton have been ground balls -- the single highest rate in baseball over that span. In an era where in which are hitting home runs more often, a pitcher who can keep the ball on the ground is a valuable commodity.
He gives the Yankees a huge advantage in a potential AL Wild Card Game
Between Chapman, Robertson, Dellin Betances, Chad Green and Jonathan Holder, the Yankees were already going to be able to use their stacked bullpen to their advantage in a winner-take-all Wild Card Game. Britton gives them another weapon to use just in case whoever starts that game doesn't go more than four or five innings.