Early season injuries to Justin Duchscherer and Brian Matusz have caused the Orioles only a minor headache. Why? Because young left-hander Zach Britton probably wouldn’t have opened the year in the major leagues otherwise.
Britton, 23, spun another gem on Saturday night in the second half of a doubleheader against the hot-hitting Rangers, tossing 7.2 scoreless innings while allowing just four hits. He struck out two, induced 15 groundballs, and moved to 2-0 on the young season.
Britton fanned six batters in his first start last week against the Rays, surrendering only three hits and just one earned run over six frames. His ERA now sits at 0.66 and his WHIP is a cool 0.95.
Baseball America ranked Britton as the game’s 28th most promising prospect this winter after he posted a 2.70 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 153.1 innings last season between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk.
With good velocity on his fastball and a sharp slider-changeup arsenal, Britton has the appearance of a pitcher who should now be in the big leagues for good. He’ll face the Yankees this Thursday at Yankee Stadium.
UPDATE: Not wanting to expose Britton to Yankee Stadium just yet, the Orioles have pushed the lefty’s next start back one day. He’ll start at Camden Yards against the Indians on Friday.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Brewers “floated” an extension offer around $20 million to infielder Jonathan Villar, but the 25-year-old turned it down.
Villar broke out last season, batting .285/.369/.457 with 19 home runs, 63 RBI, 92 runs scored, and a major league best 62 stolen bases. He also spent some time at third base and second base in the second half after shortstop prospect Orlando Arcia was promoted to the big leagues.
Villar will become eligible for salary arbitration after the 2017 season and can become a free agent after the 2020 season.
Veteran hurler Jake Peavy has not signed with a team. It’s not because he’s not still capable of being a useful pitcher — he’s well-regarded and someone would likely take a late-career chance on him — and it’s not because he no longer wishes to play. Rather, it’s because a bunch of bad things have happened in his personal life lately.
As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports, last year Peavy lost millions in an investment scam and spent much of the 2016 season distracted, dealing with investigations and depositions and all of the awfulness that accompanied it. Then, when the season ended, Peavy went home and was greeted with divorce papers. He has spent the offseason trying to find a new normal for himself and for his four sons.
Pitching is taking a backseat now, but Peavy plans to pitch again. Here’s hoping that things get sorted to the point where he can carry through with those plans.