Orioles Zach Britton Out At Least 6 Months: Fantasy Impact

Orioles closer Zach Britton ruptured his Achilles tendon. With surgery required, he will be out four to six months. What is the fantasy impact of this injury?

The injuries have already begun. One of the best closers over the last couple of years, the Orioles and fantasy baseball owners will be without Zach Britton for a few months. It was announced he ruptured his Achilles tendon during offseason workouts and will be out anywhere from four to six months.

Britton missed time last season dealing with arm issues. He pitched in just 37.1 innings after 67.0 innings in 2016. He finished with 15 saves, 2.89 ERA and 1.527 WHIP. His strikeout and walk rates were way below his career average, leading to a disappointing season for the seventh-round draft pick.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was the first to tweet out the news and put his timetable for return at a minimum of four and six months. If we go with the short end of the spectrum, Britton will be back by May.

I think that’s a little shortsighted. Six months put him back on the mound at the end of June. I’m not expecting to see him until after the All-Star break but that’s just me having low expectations.

Luckily, Britton doesn’t throw with his foot. While he is recovering from surgery, he’ll be able to keep his arm stamina at 100 percent. So as soon as his foot is healed, Britton should be back on the mound almost right away.

If you’re in an AL-only league, Britton is worth a stash on your DL. In standard leagues, he should be left on the waiver wire until a return date is set. Pairing Britton with the Orioles replacement option gives you a top-10 closer for the full season. Now, who is that replacement closer?

The likely candidate is Brad Brach. He was the Orioles closer for most of the season last year. He finished with 18 saves, 3.18 ERA, 1.132 WHIP, 9.3 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 68.0 innings.

While there were closers with better ratio stats, Brach was the 36th best closer in fantasy. He will be worth a late draft pick as an RP4 in standard leagues.

Another pitcher that will see an increase in usage in Darren O’Day. O’Day pitched in 60.1 innings last season with two saves, 17 holds, 3.43 ERA, 1.077 WHIP, 11.3 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9. He may spell Brach a time or do but for those owners in holds leagues, O’Day will be an elite option as the permanent set-up man.

Britton will undergo surgery on Thursday. We should get a better timetable for return over the weekend. He is now undraftable in most league formats. Brach will be guaranteed saves but will need to work on keeping the ball down. He moves into my top-30 relievers, possibly even top 25.