I always assumed that Zach Britton would breakout as the stud of the Orioles rotation and separate himself from Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz as a top of the rotation talent. His groundball inducing sinker and breaking ball that gets swings-and-misses were reason enough for my optimism, but things just haven’t worked out from Britton.
Over at FanGraphs.com, Mark Smith took in Britton’s latest start at Triple-A and discussed what he saw from the 25 year old lefty.
Overall, Britton threw three average-or-better pitches in terms of pure stuff, but his location – always a problem – remains an issue, although he did command the fastball well in this one. So far in 2013, the walk rate suggests that the control has been a problem throughout the season as his walk rate sits at 10%. During last night’s game, Britton didn’t walk a batter, but he seemed to focus on commanding the sinker against a poor Bats offense that couldn’t make solid contact. Britton still has control issues at age-25, and it is hard to see where he’s going to make significant strides if he hasn’t already.
Smith writes that Britton’s “stuff remains intact,” but he questions his ability to make it as a starting pitcher in the big leagues. He adds that if Britton focuses on just his sinker and slider, he could see more success out of the bullpen.
The problem is, the Orioles desperately need starting pitching.