The last time Zach Britton was seen on a field, it was when manager Buck Showalter was saving him for the wild card save that never happened. It is a shame that is the last memory we have of him because Britton had an amazing year building upon his stellar 2015 season. Britton continued a three-year run of dominance as a fantasy closer due to a nasty combination of high strikeouts and an incredibly high groundball rate. He has some risks for 2017 since his 0.54 ERA can realistically only go up and a low .244 BABIP may not be sustainable. The good news is that despite the wild card episode, his manager has supreme confidence in him and will use him often throughout the season. Even with ratio regression, he will still be very good across the board and is as safe as closers come.
Britton gave up two runs on four hits while striking out two batters in his spring debut Tuesday. While Britton wasn't his typical dominant self, he told Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports after the outing that he felt good, physically. He'll look for the quality of his pitches to improve in subsequent appearances. The lefty has been slowed in camp by an oblique injury but he appears on track for Opening Day. Britton remains secure in his role as the Orioles' closer even with the missed time.
Britton (oblique) might be just a couple of days away from making his spring debut, Rich Dubroff of PressBoxOnline.com reports. The star closer has been recovering from oblique discomfort that he first reported feeling in late February but was able to throw a full-effort bullpen session without issue this past Wednesday. The fact that he appears close to making a return is a good sign that Britton should be completely ready to go for Opening Day.
Britton (oblique) is scheduled to throw live batting practice Sunday and make his spring debut Tuesday, Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reports. The end to a long spring appears to be in sight for Britton, who has been slowly working himself back into action. The All-Star closer threw a successful bullpen session Friday, a major step towards his Grapefruit League debut. "I feel good after yesterday, so I'm itching to get in a game," he said. "Definitely feel like I've been ready the last few days to get in a game." Despite the early setbacks, Britton is confident he has time to prepare for Opening Day. "I think the way we've got it mapped out, I'll be right around eight or nine innings, including probably a two-inning minor league game," he said. If all goes well, look for Britton to receive plenty of opportunities over the coming weeks as he aims to build off his 47-save season.
Britton (oblique) threw a full-effort bullpen session Wednesday, the Baltimore Sun reports. He has been slowed this spring by an oblique ailment but has successfully ramped up to full intensity on the mound. Manager Buck Showalter said Britton's next step will be determined by the team's head athletic trainer, Richie Bancells, by the end of the day Wednesday. Perhaps Britton will be cleared to make his Grapefruit League debut in the near future.
Britton (oblique) is expected to throw off a half mound Monday, Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reports. Britton's oblique injury has limited him throughout spring training, but it appears he's just about fully recovered. He was able to play catch over the last several days and if Monday's half-mound session goes well, he's expected to throw off a normal mound Wednesday before receiving clearance to make his Grapefruit League debut. The 29-year-old should be valued as one of the game's top closers in fantasy drafts and auctions after earning Cy Young consideration in 2016 thanks to his 0.54 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 47 saves in 67 innings.