Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Zach Britton, 2011 Topps Diamond Duos #DD10

A lot has changed in the year-plus since Topps produced this card featuring two of the most notable rookie starting pitchers of the 2011 season. Most obviously, Michael Pineda was traded from the Mariners to the Yankees prior to the 2012 campaign, with one-time New York mega-prospect Jesus Montero going to Seattle. But it's also an example of how quickly a young pitcher's fortunes can change. Pineda sat out all of last year after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, and the Yankees are hoping that he will be able to make his debut in pinstripes this coming May or June. Zach Britton also dealt with injuries in 2012, though his were less severe. A left shoulder impingement kept him off of the Orioles' roster until mid-July, and he looked rusty when he finally did return. In 11 starts and a single relief appearance with the O's, Zach posted a 5.07 ERA and walked 4.8 batters per 9 innings (up from 3.6 BB/9 in 2011).

The jury is still out on Pineda; shoulder injuries are lagging behind elbow problems as it relates to advances in surgical treatment and repair. But Britton still has a decent outlook for 2013. The overall improvement of the Baltimore rotation in 2012 has pushed the lefty into an all-out competition for the fifth and final starter's slot, but he's healthier than he was a year ago and (HUGE grain of salt alert) he's gotten good results in Grapefruit League action: only two earned runs allowed in eight and two-thirds innings so far, with a pair of walks and six strikeouts. As the rest of the baseball world expects the overachieving O's of 2012 to take a step back towards the pack, a resurgence by Zach Britton would do much to help them stay competitive.

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