A September call last year might have allowed Britton to pitch more this year

Orioles rookie left-hander Zach Britton said he understands why his next start was pushed back from Tuesday to tonight against Washington.

Manager Buck Showalter said Britton is on a 200-plus innings pace and the club won’t allow him to pack on that many innings this year. So there may be more times like this where he gets a start pushed back a few days to spread out the innings and allow Britton to pitch through the entire 162-game schedule.

Britton threw 153 innings in the minors last year and this season would probably be at his club-mandated limit at around 175.

Through 13 starts, Britton, who is 6-4 with an ERA of 3.18, is averaging 6.3 innings per start. If he made 33 starts, as some pitchers that go every fifth day, he would be at 208 innings.

This makes me wonder why the Orioles didn’t consider Britton for a September callup last year. Well, I’m sure they considered it, but they didn’t do it.

Britton’s last Triple-A start last season was Sept. 4. If he had gotten the call-up then and made three more starts last September, he may have finished with 170 innings in 2010 and been able to pack on 190-200 this year.

Britton would have needed to be added to the 40-man roster last September, but the Orioles knew they’d be adding him in November anyway.

Plus, he was not tiring at all late last year and, in fact, pitched to an ERA of 2.32 over his last five Norfolk starts.

It’s not that big of a deal, but I wondered then why they just didn’t let Britton add to that total of 153 innings and now it impacts how they are using him this season.

Still, the Orioles are simply going to be careful with one of their top young arms and I can’t find any fault with how they have handled Britton this year or this latest decision to delay this next start.

Britton will be set up to pitch 200 innings in 2012 and once he gets to that total, he may never look back and crank out 200-inning seasons for years to come.

For now, he’ll be held to around 175 and while that number is fine for 2011, it could have been more if the club had elected to give Britton a September call-up last year.

Here are some comments from Britton on this topic.

Britton on his start being pushed back by smelewski

Britton knew he would not throw 200 innings by smelewski

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