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Rob Long: Britton, A True Weapon For The Orioles

I remember catching up with Baltimore Oriole lefty Zach Britton at Fan Fest 2014 as he was leaving the Baltimore Convention Center. Although his future with the club was uncertain, he still had the typical smile and pleasant disposition about himself. I asked him how he was feeling and he said, "I'm feeling great. In fact, never felt better. Just looking forward to finally getting started."

As I walked away from him, I started going over, in my head, exactly where Britton would fit on this O's staff. He was out of minor league options so this was it for him. He had to somehow make the club and find a place for himself to belong.

Zach was coming off of a 2-3 season in 2013 with an earned run average just under five at 4.95. He had allowed 52 hits in just 40 innings striking out 18 and walking 17. It was worst than that in 2012. Britton's ERA was 5.07 then. Things weren't exactly looking promising in this organization for the then 26 year old.

Britton was summoned to the bullpen at the start of the season and after a failed attempt to land the O's closer job by Tommy Hunter, it came to Zach and he refused to let go of that role. He saved 37 games to a tune of a 1.65 ERA. Even after trading for reliever Andrew Miller it was obvious that Britton was the guy Buck Showalter would call on in the ninth when in a jam.

In 2015, Zach has added to his arsenal. While most closers in the game are good for ninth inning only, Britton brings another element to the game. Less than two years removed from being expected to pitch multiple innings, the lefty can still reach back and give the Orioles more than just three outs.

Showalter has called on Britton to go more than an inning in four out his 16 saves and he's answered the call each time. In fact, he hasn't even surrendered a single hit in those four appearances with seven strikeouts and two walks.

We know the O's can't call on Zach Britton in the eighth inning too much, but he's shown the ability to give the O's relief in tight jams. He's done that in two out of his past three saves. When Britton took over as the closer for the team there was talk that he still wanted to be a starter but maybe we're witnessing the makings of one of the game's top finishers.

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