The red-hot Yankees will begin a two-game set against the also-red-hot Braves tonight in Atlanta, but they’ll do with a different bullpen setup than expected. Reliever Zack Britton is in the midst of his worst season since the Dan Duquette-era Orioles were still trying to use him as a starter in the early-2010s, and he has a 5.89 ERA and 5.46 FIP on the season — one that’s been shortened to 22 games due to elbow surgery to clean up bone chips and a hamstring strain at the end of June.
Britton’s back on the IL now with perhaps his most frightening injury to date: a left elbow sprain. The 33-year-old lefty has pitched sparingly since getting blasted out of the interim closer’s role earlier this month and was last seen on the mound on August 19th. Now, it doesn’t seem like he’ll be back in the Yankees’ bullpen anytime soon. It’s unlikely that the Yankees will mess around with an elbow injury when Britton’s mostly been on the fritz anyway, particularly since he’s already under contract for 2022 due to the terms of his option. It might be best to just scrap this year and hope for a rebound.
The bright side is that the recently-acquired Clay Holmes is now back off the COVID-IL and will take Britton’s old spot with his own standout sinker. It’s a small sample to be sure, but Holmes looked like a new man in New York after his trade from the Pirates, allowing just two earned runs on four hits and one walk in 8.1 innings of work across seven games.
In another minor move, the Yankees added outfielder Jonathan Davis back to their bench with a couple games in a DH-less NL park ahead. They had an extra spot after returning Estevan Florial from his one-day stint as Brett Gardner’s backup on Saturday (and likely want Florial to keep playing in Triple-A).
The last notable unfortunate injury transaction of the afternoon is that Miguel Andújar’s season may be over. He had been on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton last week, trying to come back from the left wrist sprain that his kept him away from the Yankees since early July. However, Andújar only made it into two contests and hasn’t appeared since August 18th. Now, his rehab assignment is over and he’s heading to the 60-day IL.
There might be an outside chance that Andújar could return in time to play a bench role in September, but at least the Yankees’ depth acquisitions over the past month have lessened the urgency of his recovery. He had a couple hot streaks here and there but in 45 games, has hit just .253/.284/.383 with six homers and an 82 OPS+. Like Clint Frazier, his time in New York may be coming to a close.