The Orioles officially activated Zach Britton from the 60-day disabled list on Wednesday afternoon. Hopefully he will be off the DL for good this time. It didn’t quite take the last time. For now, it’s good news for the O’s that their closer, who was perfect on save chances last season, is back.
In order to make room for Britton on the 40-man roster, the Orioles transferred utility man Ryan Flaherty from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL. Flaherty last played in a game on May 18 and there’s still no timetable for when he will return or even head out on a rehab assignment, so that is a move that makes sense for the O’s.
The Orioles made room for Britton on the 25-man roster by optioning Tyler Wilson, who pitched in Tuesday’s game, back to Triple-A Norfolk following that game.
As well as the moves to add Britton back onto the roster, the Orioles also placed Chris Tillman on the paternity list and called up Jayson Aquino from Triple-A Norfolk to get the spot start. Between yo-yo moves to and from Baltimore, Aquino has started 12 games for the Tides with a 4.46 ERA over 66.2 innings.
Britton ended up missing just about 60 days after the May 9 news that he was expected to miss 45-60 days. Let it not be said that the Orioles never give a correct injury timetable.
With Britton’s return, if everything goes well, the Orioles will at least have their bullpen strengthened. Britton manning the closer situations pushes everyone else back into roles to which they’re more accustomed. That particularly includes the rest of the O’s regular late inning people, Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, and Mychal Givens, but should also ripple into other relievers as well.
That’s what the Orioles have wanted all along. It’s not the biggest problem that has plagued the team this season, but there have definitely been games where the lack of Britton has been felt. Three blown saves by Brach turned into games that the Orioles lost.
Flip those around, as you could have with 2016 Britton, and the Orioles would be tied for the second wild card spot in the AL. That wouldn’t solve their starting rotation woes or the slumps of players like Manny Machado, but it would at least make them feel like slightly less fatal problems.
Now, we just need to hope that the second trip to the DL is the one that does the trick for getting Britton to look more like his 47-for-47 in saves chances self from last season.