Yankees lose relievers Zack Britton, Clay Holmes to arm injuries as regular season winds down

New York Yankees left-hander Zack Britton exited Friday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, his former team, with left arm fatigue, the Yankees announced. He was placed on the 60-day injured list Saturday, ending his season.

“He’s doing pretty well, actually,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Saturday (video link). “We are going to IL him. (Jacob) Barnes is here to take his place. I think, basically, it’s just something kind of running out of time here, having a little bit of fatigue. Last night, it was one of those things you don’t want to power through that, reach for some more, and do some damage in there. He’s in a good spot heading into the offseason.”

Britton was making his third appearance back from Tommy John surgery Friday. He walked the only batter he faced, threw three of nine pitches for strikes, and his final pitch sailed to the backstop. He signaled for the trainer immediately and exited the game.

Britton had Tommy John surgery last September and returned in 12 months, which is a fairly aggressive rehab. These days Tommy John surgery typically comes with a 14-16 month rehab. Britton pushed to return quickly because he wanted to contribute late in the season and potentially the postseason, but now is a non-option.

It’s not uncommon for pitchers to battle control problems in the early days back from Tommy John surgery, and Britton walked six of the nine batters he’s faced after coming off the injured list. Aroldis Chapman has struggled most of the season and Wandy Peralta is on the injured list with a back issue, leaving the Yankees without a trusted high-leverage lefty reliever.

Furthermore, Boone announced Friday that All-Star closer Clay Holmes is dealing with a shoulder issue and is unlikely to pitch the rest of the regular season. He received a cortisone shot but will not go on the injured list, because it would make him ineligible for the ALDS. The Yankees have already clinched the AL East title and a Wild Card Series bye. The ALDS begins Oct. 11.

Peralta is expected to return for the final regular season series, and he’ll join righties Scott Effross, Jonathan Loáisiga and Lou Trivino in the high leverage mix with Holmes sidelined. Rookie righties Ron Marinaccio and Clarke Schmidt have pitched well and have been auditioning for postseason bullpen roles in recent weeks.

Friday’s loss (BAL 2, NYY 1) clinched the AL’s No. 1 seed for the Houston Astros and locked the Yankees in as the No. 2 seed. New York is 96-60 with six games remaining.

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