New York Yankees southpaw reliever Zack Britton said Saturday that he asked team manager Aaron Boone to pull him from the closer role moving forward.
“I told [Boone] 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 said.
The request came after Britton’s very public blown save in the Field of Dreams game late last week. The FOX broadcast was the most-watched regular season baseball game in 16 years.
On Saturday, two days after the Field of Dreams game, Britton also pitched late in the ballgame, giving up a hit and allowing two walks. On Sunday, however, Lucas Luetge and Wandy Peralta combined for the ninth inning save (with two runs given up).
Britton also told reporters that “physically, I am not where I normally am at this point in the season.”
Britton underwent surgery in the spring to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow, and this past offseason he also dealt with a case of COVID-19, which caused him to lose weight. Britton also went on the IL with a hamstring strain in June.
Even with the setbacks, his sharp decline at 33-years-old is surprising, given his strong two-plus seasons in New York and stellar 2016 campaign for the Orioles, where he finished top five in Cy young voting as a closer.
Moving forward, closing games for the Yankees will likely be a mix of lefty/righty matchups and whoever is rested that evening. Closer Aroldis Chapman has been deactivated since Aug. 7 with elbow inflammation, so his timetable to return is anyone’s guess.
The Yankees were borderline DOA a few weeks ago, but have been playing good baseball of late, and currently find themselves in a fierce four-team battle in the AL East. With about 45 games left to play, the Yankees are 5.5 games behind the Rays. The Red Sox and Blue Jays are also in the mix, as all four teams currently sit between 7.5 game of each other.