Heath Bintliff: How Britton’s start stacks up to other O’s southpaws

Orioles rookie southpaw Zach Britton moved his record to 3-1 last night as the Orioles narrowly beat the Twins 5-4. Britton gave up three runs over his six innings, giving him three quality starts over his first four career starts.

I was curious how Britton’s hot start compared to other Oriole lefty starters throughout franchise history. Here’s how Britton stacks up to their first four starts (or significant relief appearances, since some of these guys pitched under Earl Weaver, you know).

Brian Matusz - 18 2/3 IP, 20 K, 8 BB, 4 HR, 6.75 ERA

In Matusz’ defense, he was rushed to the majors. He got only eight starts above Single-A ball (all at Double-A Bowie) before making his Baltimore debut. Given the circumstances, Matusz has acquitted himself well. He is still considered the future ace of the staff. Get well, Brian.

Erik Bedard - 16 2/3 IP, 14 K, 12 BB, 1 HR, 4.32 ERA

Bedard owns the Orioles’ single-season record for strikeouts and when he broke in in 2004, he already had his strikeout mojo working. When healthy, he was one of the best lefties in the game.

Scott McGregor - 28 1/3 IP, 12 K, 9 BB, 1 HR, 3.49 ERA

McGregor made his first four appearances of significance split between the 1976 and 1977 seasons and, outside of some wildness, was pretty much the pitcher O’s fans would watch over the next 13 season. He would only start five games in 1977 before entrenching himself in the Oriole rotation the next year. Had a 1.63 ERA in postseason play.

Steve Barber - 24 IP, 18 K, 8 BB, 0 HR, 1.88 ERA

Steve Barber was a bad man. Not only did the Takoma Park native shut down the opposition over his first four appearances at age 22, he gave up one earned run or less in 10 of his first 11 appearances during his rookie season in 1960. Barber was a two-time All-Star for the Orioles before being traded to the Yankees in 1967.

Dave McNally - 29 1/3 IP, 18 K, 9 BB, 2 HR, 3.07 ERA

The standard that all Baltimore southpaws will be judged against. McNally debuted at 19 with a two-hit, complete-game shutout in 1962. He struggled a bit during his rookie season in 1963, but settled in after that for his fantastic 14-year career.

Zach Britton - 19 2/3 IP, 17 K, 10 BB, 1 HR, 3.16 ERA

Looking at the rest of these debuts, Britton’s is probably only second to Barber’s. The guy shows poise beyond his years and his stuff is for real. He’s not going back to Triple-A Norfolk.

By the way, have you noticed Britton’s eyes when he’s pitching? They’re like the cold dead eyes of a great white shark. Check it out, it’s true.

Heath Bintliff blogs about the Orioles at Dempsey’s Army. His ruminations about the Birds appear this week as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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