Drake Britton Quietly Dominating In Red Sox Bullpen
Remember the Red Sox minor league pitcher who was pulled over during spring training for going 113 MPH and then handed the cop his debit card when he asked for his license? Yeah, that was Drake Britton. Such buffoonery often winds up being the headline of a young ballplayer’s career. Many more pitchers flame out that make it in the bigs and when you heard the story about young Britton in March his decision making seemed to make he a good bet to be one of the flame-outs. Luckily for the Sox when they needed him to make a name for himself on the mound he answered the call.
Britton worked as a starter throughout his entire minor league career. He had Tommy John surgery in 2010. Although he was a starter in the minors during the first half of this season he was seen by the Sox brass as a possible late inning option and was thrown into the fire when he was called up by the Sox on July 14th. The 24-year old Waco, Texas native took the ball and ran with it. In his first 7 appearances Britton was not scored upon. In his 8th appearance in Houston on Tuesday night Britton gave up his first run on a solo home run by Astros shortstop Jake Elmore. He had pitched 10 2/3 scoreless innings up to that point.
In his first 11 1/3 innings in the majors Britton has struck out more batters (10) than he has given up hits (7). He’s only walked one. He has dominated hitters on both sides of the plate almost equally – left-handed hitters are 4 for 18 against him and right-handed hitters are 3 for 18. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Britton is the moxie that he has shown. It may be tough to appreciate the situation but it’s no small thing for a 24-year old pitcher to come into the middle of the playoff race in the AL East and dominate the way Drake Britton has. If that wasn’t enough Britton showed he can be an everyman on Wednesday night when he pinch-ran for David Ortiz and scored what was the tying run on Stephen Drew’s game-winning home run.
Of course Britton will eventually face adversity and at that point it will show a lot about Britton’s mettle on the mound. At this point I don’t think I’d be exaggerating to compare his on the mound demeanor to a young Jonathan Papelbon. The Red Sox needed a guy that they could count on late in the games and Britton has emerged. Hopefully he can keep it up and make that DUI a footnote rather than a career headline.