Tuesday morning’s Aaron Boone press conference over Zoom included some news about reliable setup man Zack Britton that no one wants to hear. According to Boone, Britton threw a bullpen session on Sunday, and while it seemed unremarkable enough for the skipper to deem it “successful,” Britton revealed that he felt some soreness in his left elbow.
So during the Yankees’ exhibition off-day yesterday, Britton was sent for an MRI. Although the Yankees do not believe that this is a UCL injury, they want to get the full scoop, and Boone admitted that it’s certainly possible that the 33-year-old southpaw could end up missing Opening Day on April 1st. Boone didn’t want to speculate too much on possible timelines though, and said that the team should know more about Britton’s injury when they receive the MRI results later today.
It’s been a difficult spring already for Britton, as he battled a case of COVID-19 back in January that was not only rough, but also delayed his normal workout buildup to spring training. Since he didn’t feel completely ready, he had not yet pitched in any exhibition games.
This news could end up being pretty dire for the Yankees. Since coming to the Bronx from the Orioles in July 2018, Britton has been perhaps the most reliable arm in the team’s loaded bullpen, notching a 2.14 ERA, 3.62 FIP, and 1.12 WHIP across 105.1 innings. If Britton has to miss extensive time, then the pressure will likely be on Chad Green to step in as Aroldis Chapman’s regular setup man with Darren O’Day and Justin Wilson maneuvering to cover Green’s typical roles. That might also lead to Nick Nelson, Adam Warren, or someone like them finding their way onto the Opening Day roster.
For now, the Yankees will cross their fingers and hope for the best for Britton. We’ll surely be doing the same.