After blowing the save opportunity in Thursday's loss to the White Sox in MLB's Field of Dreams Game, New York Yankees left-handed reliever Zack Britton said he asked manager Aaron Boone to remove him as closer.
Britton disclosed the news to reporters on Saturday. Via Marly Rivera of ESPN, here's what Britton said:
"I told him I don't deserve to be out there in the ninth inning; other guys deserve it. I haven't been pitching the way I should be to be out there when the team needs wins. I told [Boone] I want to pitch, whenever you need me I'll be ready, but I don't deserve to be out there in those situations."
Britton went on to say that, "physically [I am] not where I normally am at this stage of the season."
Britton in his age-33 season has pitched to a 6.19 ERA with 12 strikeouts and 14 walks in 16 innings. Opposing hitters this year have an on-base percentage of .425 against Britton, and he's blown three of four save opportunities. Britton has an exceptionally strong track record including two-and-a-half strong seasons with the Yankees prior to this one and, in 2016, one of the great closer seasons in MLB history with the Orioles, when Britton logged a 0.54 ERA and finished fourth in the AL Cy Young vote.
However, Britton in spring underwent surgery to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow, and this past offseason he dealt with a symptomatic case of COVID-19, which caused him to lose weight. As well, Britton in late June went on the IL with a hamstring strain.
If Britton, who gave up a run in the 10th inning of the Yankees' win over Chicago on Saturday, moves into a more low-leverage role for the time being, Boone will likely turn to right-handers Jonathan Loaisiga and Chad Green to handle save opportunities until Aroldis Chapman returns from injury. Chapman has been on the IL since Aug. 7 with elbow inflammation.
The Yankees enter play on Sunday 2 1/2 games behind the rival Red Sox for the second AL wild card spot. They trail the A's for the top wild card spot by 3 1/2 games.