Opportunity has been ringing like an alarm clock pitcher Zach Britton has slept through for the better part of the last five weeks.
With three-fifths of the Opening Day rotation now working in Triple-A Norfolk and the Orioles needing a starter on Tuesday in Minnesota, it appears the left-hander is finally ready to answer the bell after struggling with consistency upon being activated from the disabled list.
Britton pitched seven shutout innings for Triple-A Norfolk against Lehigh Valley on Thursday, putting himself in position to be recalled for the first time this season. The southpaw allowed four hits, struck out six, and walked none over his 93 pitches of work in the 7-0 victory for the Tides. He also induced 10 groundball outs compared to three fly outs and reportedly showed excellent fastball command in the lower half of the strike zone.
The stellar outing improved Britton’s record to 4-1 and lowered his earned run average to 4.15. Over his last five starts, the 24-year-old has allowed 10 earned runs and 24 hits in 32 innings while striking out 23 and walking 12.
The organization has wanted to see Britton improve his command while continuing to build strength in his pitching shoulder. Now, it appears he’s on the verge of regaining his spot in the Baltimore starting rotation.
Britton would also be working on regular rest Tuesday when the Orioles play the second game of a four-game set against the Twins.
Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, and Chris Tillman will be the starters against the Detroit Tigers this weekend while Miguel Gonzalez is scheduled to take the ball in the series opener in Minnesota on Monday night.