Chicago Cubs Hot Stove: Will the team check in on two former Yankees relievers?

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Chicago Cubs: Britton needs to be a priority for the front office

When it comes to Zach Britton, everyone needs to understand. He will never be what he was in his historic 2016 campaign – ever. Accept that and move on with that knowledge under your cap.

He pitched to a 0.54 ERA and 1.94 FIP in 69 appearances for the Baltimore Orioles, marking his second consecutive campaign finishing 58 or more games. Britton finished fourth in American League Cy Young voting and 11th in AL MVP balloting after his outstanding campaign.

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Since then, he hasn’t been quite as dominant – but remains an effective left-handed option. After spending 2017 in Baltimore (38 appearances, 2.89 ERA) – some started to question his reliability. His strikeout-to-walk rate plummeted from 5.64 in 2015 all the way to 1.61 in 2017). Then, last year, he joined the Yankees in a midseason trade.

Pitching in the Bronx, he made 25 appearances, pitching to a 1.160 WHIP, 4.08 FIP and 2.88 ERA. He still struggled with command – walking four batters per nine. That marked an improvement over his first-half numbers with the O’s, where he issued just under a half-dozen free passes per nine.

So, he’s clearly not an elite shutdown guy at this point. But if you’re Theo Epstein, you hope that some mechanical tweaks can help him control the walks should he land in Chicago. And that very same troubling walk rate may help control his asking power on the open market this winter.