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LHP Zack Britton could be headed toward elbow surgery that would likely end his career pitching for the New York Yankees.
The New York Yankees run to the 2021 postseason may have to go on without relief pitcher Zack Britton.
Manager Aaron Boone revealed on Tuesday that surgery on Britton’s injured left elbow is a possibility. He stopped short of saying the words Tommy John, but it could be the direction Britton is headed after experiencing a strain in the elbow on Sunday.
“I don’t know what exactly. I just know that it’s possible,” Boone said, according to SNY. “Some kind of surgery could be in place.”
If surgery does put an end to Britton’s season, it could also bring to a close his tenure in Yankees pinstripes. The Yankees exercised a $14 million club option for 2022 on the 33-year-old left-hander before the season, but extensive surgery to repair the elbow would eliminate any chance he has of playing next year, as well.
Yankees: Zack Britton’s potential last season in New York hasn’t gone well
The potentially final images of Britton on the mound at Yankee Stadium weren’t positive ones. He last pitched on Aug. 19 against the Twins, when he came into the game in the eighth inning to protect a three-run lead and gave up an RBI single to Jorge Polanco. He’s blown three saves in the last month, including surrendering a walk-off home run to Tim Anderson and the White Sox in the Field of Dreams game on Aug. 12 which led him to tell Boone not to call on him in save situations. He has a 5.89 ERA in 22 appearances this season.
The rest of the Yankees bullpen, though, has powered the club the last month. The Yankees have the lowest bullpen ERA in MLB in August at 2.16. They were nine games behind the Red Sox after losing 5-4 on July 25—with Britton credited for a blown save—but are 18-4 in August to go 1.5 games ahead of Boston and just four behind the Rays for the AL East lead. The club’s .818 winning percentage would be their best in the month of August since 1932, and the highest in any month since July 1941.
The Yankees were struggling to stay in the playoff hunt a few weeks ago; now they are firmly in a Wild Card spot and challenging for the division lead. They’ll just have to do it without Britton, whose four seasons of pitching in the Bronx may be over.