Longtime closer Zach Britton retires after 12 seasons in the league.
The Baltimore Orioles drafted lefty reliever Zach Britton in the third round of the 2006 draft. Britton was brought in by the O’s to be a starting pitcher, but things didn’t quite work out. In 28 starts in 2011, Britton posted a 4.61 ERA in 154.1 innings. He continued to struggle in 2012 and 2013 with an ERA of 5.07 and 4.95 respectively.
The Orioles decided to move Britton to the bullpen prior to the 2014 season, and he took off. Britton lowered his ERA from 4.95 to 1.65 in 71 appearances. He had respectable strikeout numbers with 62 in 76.1 innings.
Zach Britton started to emerge as one of the league’s best closers in the following years. Britton broke the consecutive-save streak record on July 23rd, 2017, by recording his 55th consecutive save. The record was previously held by Red Sox reliever Tom Gordon, who had 54 consecutive. Britton’s streak started on October 1st, 2015, and lasted until August 23rd, 2017 (60 straight).
2016 was by far Britton’s best statistical season. In 67 innings, Britton posted an ERA of 0.54 with 74 strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.84.
Britton was traded to the New York Yankees during the 2018 season. He suffered a ruptured right Achilles that offseason and needed surgery. This injury sparked a long line of injuries late in his career. He only pitched 18.1 innings in 2019 after dealing with a hamstring issue in the first half of the season, and an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery in September of ’19.
The elbow injury followed him throughout the rest of his career. Britton received arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip in that same elbow in 2020. The final blow was him being placed on the 60-day IL for left shoulder fatigue in 2021. Britton tried to come back in 2022, but was limited to 3 appearances and an 13.50 ERA.
Zach Britton will always be remembered as a focal point during Baltimore’s postseason runs in the mid-2010s. He was a part of teams that featured Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Delmon Young, J.J. Hardy and Ryan Flaherty. Even though he finished his career with a division rival, Zach Britton will always hold a special spot in the heart of O’s fans.