The Baltimore Orioles haven't caught many breaks this season. The O's entered Monday night with the worst record in the majors, at 19-45. Within the next few weeks, the Orioles are likely to begin swapping veterans for prospects as they try their hand at rebuilding.
On that note, the Orioles received a rare portion of good news on Monday, as left-handed reliever Zach Britton is back and ready to make his season debut. Britton had missed the first two-plus months of the season while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon:
The Orioles have made the following roster moves:— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) June 11, 2018
Reinstated LHP Zach Britton from the 60-day disabled list (right Achilles surgery).
Placed RHP Pedro Araujo on the 10-day DL (right elbow sprain).
Transferred OF Colby Rasmus to the 60-day DL (left hip flexor strain).
A free agent at season's end, Britton was one of the best relievers in baseball from 2014-16. He struggled in 2017 with both his command and his health, the latter limiting him to just 38 appearances. The O's nonetheless had a deal lined up at the trade deadline that would have sent him to the Houston Astros, but medical problems nixed that plan. Britton then suffered a torn Achilles during the winter, leaving him on the mend once more.
The question is how much Britton can improve his stock by over the next six weeks. He pitched well during his rehab stint, permitting four hits and zero walks in 5 ⅓ innings while fanning six batters. Yet his velocity reportedly checked in around 92-94 mph -- or several ticks below his norm. Perhaps Britton can regain the oomph on his sinker as he eases back into game shape; if not, the pitch's movement and location will become more paramount to its success.
Britton probably won't bring back what the Orioles would have gotten for him if they had dealt him last July -- reportedly now-Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Colin Moran. Still, the Orioles have a chance to get something for Britton -- and that qualifies as a win these days in Baltimore.