Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone announces plan to replace Zack Britton in the late innings

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone
Oct 17, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone (17) answers questions from media during a press conference before game four of the 2019 ALCS playoff baseball series against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees’ left-handed reliever Zack Britton is set to undergo surgery to remove bone chips from his left (pitching) elbow, after experiencing some soreness this week after a bullpen session and going for an MRI.

The MRI showed the bone spurs, and the team announced he needs surgery that will knock him out of action for at least a couple of months. He will need rest for approximately six weeks, perhaps more, and after that, he needs to enter a throwing program to ramp up his progression and get himself ready to face major league hitters. It could be May or June until we see the Yankees’ most dependable reliever again.

The Yankees, however, need to replace his late-inning prowess. We are talking about a guy that had a 1.89 ERA last season and filled in admirably for Aroldis Chapman as the closer while he was away from the club last year.

The Yankees will go with a set-up by committee

According to Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone, setup duties will be handled by committee, and the first opportunities will be given to Chad Green, Darren O’Day and Justin Wilson.

“It will probably be more matchup-related about what we have on a given day from a usage standpoint,” Boone said on Wednesday to MLB.com. “We’re trying to put guys in the best matchups possible to be successful, so I would say that sixth, seventh and eighth inning will be very fluid throughout this process.”

Britton is convinced he will return this season to help the Yankees. “Somebody is going to get an opportunity now to pitch some important innings for us,” the pitcher said. “Hopefully, they run with it. I’m hopeful that whoever steps into my role is going to do a great job, and I can concentrate on getting back to the level I want to be back, whenever that is.”

Boone explained that Britton’s absence doesn’t mean he will necessarily have to carry an additional lefty in the bullpen, as Chapman and Wilson are both southpaws. And he also said righty Jonathan Loaisiga’s responsibilities could increase.

“Zack Britton is as elite a reliever as we’ve had over the last five to 10 years, so it’s a blow to lose a guy of his caliber,” Boone said. “That being said, we have a lot of confidence in the people that we do have and the opportunities that this will create until Zack is back. I feel really good about how we’ll be able to navigate it.”