This past Tuesday, March 9, the Bombers got some devastating injury news just weeks before the start of the season.
Zack Britton, the most dominant Yankee reliever over the past few seasons will be shut down for the foreseeable future to undergo orthoscopic surgery removing a bone chip from his left elbow.
Following an offseason where the team bid farewell to Jonathan Holder, Tommy Kahnle, and Adam Ottavino, the Yanks were clearly hoping for a big season and from the veteran southpaw. In just over two seasons bridging the gap in the bullpen, Britton posted a 2.14 ERA over 105.1 innings collecting 14 saves and 90 strikeouts along the way.
The additions of left-hander Justin Wilson and veteran Darren O’Day should help eat some of those bridge innings that Britton was locked into game after game. But this also means more high-pressure innings for Chad Green, Jonathan Loaisiga, and Aroldis Chapman, situations where Yankees relievers often struggled in 2020 with even more talented options.
With the bullpen already taking a big hit this offseason, this is not the way the Yankees wanted to start off 2021. They will now be without their most reliable bullpen arm and number two starter (Luis Severino) to start the season. And with the way injuries have gone the past two seasons, there should be plenty more to come.
Once again, attrition remains the biggest issue for the Yankees. The previous two seasons it was the offense that couldn’t stay healthy, and so far this season it’s pitching. The Bombers have the roster to go deep into October year after year if only they could simultaneously stay healthy on both sides of the ball. But until then, they are simply a broken, underperforming team searching for their first Fall Classic appearance in over a decade.