It’s starting to feel like a rite of spring: Barry Zito shows up with a new delivery he was working on in the offseason, only to ditch it on the advice of Giants coaches.
Zito arrived this year with a new crouched over stance on the mound. I’ll let Andrew Baggarly take it from here:
Zito, who is still owed $46 million, attempted to mimic Tim Lincecum’s delivery during an offseason working with noted pitching guru Tom House. But observers both inside and outside the Giants organization tell me that Zito doesn’t have the arm speed or athleticism to pull off that delivery. Zito’s arm drags behind his body as he plants his front foot, leading to hittable pitches at the belt.
The end results bared that out: Zito had a 7.91 ERA in five spring starts. He allowed 32 hits, including five homers, in 19 1/3 innings.
The plan is for Zito to use his old delivery in a minor league start Wednesday. He’s still slated to be the Giants’ fifth starter this season, though if he has a rough April, the team could turn to youngster Eric Surkamp. After a solid 2010 season, Zito went 3-4 with a 5.87 ERA during an injury-riddled 2011 campaign.
Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.
The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.
Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.
The Dodgers staved off a four-game series sweep at the hands of the Phillies, winning 5-4 on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. The win reduced their magic number in the NL West to one, meaning that a win against the Giants at home or a Diamondbacks loss to the Marlins on Friday will result in clinching the division.
Of course, the Dodgers winning and the Diamondbacks losing hasn’t exactly been a sure thing lately. The D-Backs rattled off a 13-game winning streak from August 24 through September 6. The Dodgers lost 11 games in a row from September 2-11 and were on a four-game slide before Thursday’s win.
The Dodgers will send Rich Hill to the mound to start opposite Jeff Samardzija. The Diamondbacks have Zack Greinke opposing Adam Conley.