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April 27, 2011

Finish this sentence: Zach Britton reminds me of ...

With his one-run, sixth-inning performance against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday, Zach Britton became the first rookie in Orioles’ modern-day history (dating back to 1954) to win four starts in April.

Sorry Willis Roberts, you are now officially out of the record books.

Britton is carving out a heck of a start to his Orioles career. But we do need to show some restraint here. One good month doesn’t make a career or even a season (didn’t Josh Towers and Travis Driskill start their Orioles’ careers 5-0?)

The great thing about Britton is that he gets that. He’s not patting himself on the back. He’s looking to his next start. We asked him about the rookie record and his ERA (2.84) and he quickly turned it into a team answer.

“It is not about setting a record for wins in a month for a rookie or anything like that. It’s not about having a sub-3.00 ERA,” Britton said. “It’s about keeping our team in the game every time out and that’s what I am hoping to continue to do.”

Our Sun colleague Kevin Van Valkenburg wrote a great feature on Britton for Tuesday and here’s an interesting quote from it: "I asked all our coaches the question in spring training ‘Who is he comparable to?’” Orioles pitching coach Mark Connor said about Britton. “No one could remember one. The only guy who comes close is Mike Hampton, but I don't think he threw with that velocity.”

We have played this game in the press box, too: Who does Britton remind you of? My baseball colleague, Jeff Zrebiec, says Tampa Bay’s David Price, just not as overpowering.

One scout who has watched him a lot calls Britton a left-handed Brandon Webb.

I like the Hampton comp, but I’ve said for two years now that Britton reminds me of a left-handed Josh Beckett. Not his stuff, really, but his baby face and his complete confidence at such a young age.

Britton is a really nice kid, but he’s just got that confident swagger that he can beat anyone. And Beckett has that.

Now I am throwing it to you.

Daily Think Special: What pitcher, past or present, would you compare to Zach Britton?

Posted by Dan Connolly at 6:00 AM | | Comments (83)
Categories: Connolly's Corner Sports Bar


He reminds me of Steve Barber (Orioles, 1960-1967)!

Tom glavine or bedard with less velocity. If he could stay away from the walks he could have a really special season.

Dave McNally

Erik Bedard when he was good and healthy.

Scott Erickson..... Heavy Sinker...

I am very impressed with Britton. The comparision I have to make and this is strictly on his stuff is a young Eric Bedard. I think he has a way better mental make up compared to bedard but he has that nasty sink on his pitches like bedard had a few years ago. I k ow it's early and hitters will make adjustments but I am so excited to see where this kid is in 2 years! Let's go birds!

Steve Barber

He reminds me of Zach Britton. I dont get this urgent need to draw comparisons between stars of yester year and young maturing ball players. Let them be who they are. Find something else to talk about Dan.


OK, no free drink for you. It's something the coaches talked about, something the writers have tallked about. Just trying to share the joy.

I agree with BMAC, Steve Barber.

Erik Bedard without the fragile ego/body.

Clayton Kershaw

He's got a style all his own. Pretty calm for a young kid too.

A young JIMMY KEY, who like Britton had great control over his 2 seam fastball and a wicked change-up.

I know this is going to seem way off but this is more on his poise that he has shown is what Mussina had when they bought in Sutcliffe to help tutor him

But hes doing it without the presence of a Sutcliffe

He reminds me of a young Steve Carlton!

Both Dave McNally and Steve Barber.

Just where would we be without Britton? There was a group of fans clamoring to keep him in the minors for benefit of service time...believe they referred to it as a "no-brainer."

As any business manager will tell you: "worry little about overpaying a producer and worry much about what a non-producer costs you."

Jon Lester. He even resembles him in the way he wears his uniform, and his motion is quite similar.

Steve Barber

A lefthanded Roy Halladay

He reminds me of Jimmy Key back in his short stint with the Orioles.

He reminds me of a lefty Scott Erickson, but I really like DaveMan's Jimmy Key comparison. Man, wouldn't that be awesome?

The way he stands on the mound, and even his delivery remind me of Jon Lester. His stuff reminds me of Brandon Webb

I've seen Zack pitch in the minors and the best part to this start is that I don't think he's really got his best sinker yet.

I've been posting for the past year that this kid could be better then Matusz, and that's no knock on Matusz. The O's could end up with two of the best young lefties in the majors in their rotation for a long time.

It always seems to be awhile before that thing really develops it's bite. When it does, it creates weak ground balls and K's.

Dan, has anybody asked him if he's thrown his best sinker yet? I like the Mussina comparison in that Mike had that hard knuckle curve which dropped like a sinker. Different pitch, but same kind of effect on a batter trying to pick it up.

I think the Jimmy Key comparisons make sense, but I don't think Key had Britton's velocity. Britton is like a cross between Key and Erickson. Key's touch and Erickson's velocity and movement.

Whitey Ford. a couple of strikeouts, a lot of ground balls and at the end of the day, you can't figure out how the heck he beat,............. again!

Al Leiter or Mickey Lolich

Tough to say. A lot of these comparisons (Whitey Ford, Carlton, Halladay, McNally) make me wince a bit, but that would be nice. I don't like the Key comparison: I think Key didn't throw as hard but had greater feel and a more diverse arsenal. I think Key is a better comp for Matusz in terms of style (and let's hope production too, Key was an excellent pitcher). Erickson from the left side might work better, although I think Scott had a more intimidating stature on the mound: that guy was a nasty SOB, and I mean that in a good way. Britton appears to be able to get strike outs more than Erickson did, which makes that comp not so clean either. It's fun to think about in this case, since no one pitcher leaps to mind.

Most of the usual suspects have been covered here so I'll pour a little water on the fire, just to keep us honest, and say:


He came up in the 90s during a heated playoff run and rattled off 10 wins. I believe it might have been consecutive decisions. At the time everyone talked about him being a future Ace, but it turned out that he was a one year wonder. Proverbial lightning in a bottle.

That said, I like Britton a lot. I am just saying we fans need to stay reserved and watch the kid mature. I garauntee it will be ups and downs.

Already been said, but Steve Carlton.

Just a side note, when Erik Bedard was a young pitcher, he didn't really have good starts like Britton has been getting. Erik was a notoriously bad pitch count manager because he went for the Ks, and much of his starts saw him leave about the 5th inning. Brit on that alone exceeds that.

That said, based on pure appearance alone, I think maybe Britton does have an uncanny resemblance.

A left handed Wally Bunker - heat with a nasty sinker

Dennis- I was one of the fans saying we should leave him in the minors for service time reasons. I stick by my opinion at the time because that was back when we has Matusz and there was still a thought that Dukesher might be available. If Britton's as good as he looks, theres a lot more good pitching to come from him and an entire year of good pitching in the future is more valuable than the 2 wins he compiled in the first 20 days of the season.

To answer the main question though- Hes got the swag and confidence of Josh Becket but his stuff is like a better version of Scotty Erickson's. I think this kid's got the potential to be great- fantastic stuff, the perfect level of confidence. Above all he has a huge desire to succeed which is severely underrated. He's not gonna be happy with a solid rookie campaign and a decent few years in the middle of the rotation beacuse he wants to be an ace.

Britton, Matusz and Arietta are going to be a filthy 1-2-3 for years to come.

Definitely - Dave McNally...

Jim Palmer. Why not The Best?

Fernando Valenzuela for sure

"Sorry Willis Roberts, you are now officially out of the record books."

I'm not sure why everyone in the Baltimore media keeps saying this, because it isn't really true. Willis Roberts won 4 games in April of 2001, therefore Britton merely tied his record.

Now if you want to say 4 starts rather than just games, you would be correct. One of Roberts' 4 wins that April came in relief.


You are absolutely correct. The Orioles presented it as rookie starters and some of us left "starters" out of there. Britton is the only Orioles' rookie starter to win four games in April. Roberts also won 4 in 2001, but not all as a starter. There is a distinction. Thanks for calling me (us) out on that. Free drink chip.

scotty mcgregor

Wanted to add, that I love the Wally Bunker comparison. You hope Brit's career goes a little differently but in terms of a fastball that has a natural pure power sink in it, that's a great comparison.

Ben McDonald

zach britton reminds me of oria hershieser with his bull dog mentality. zach britton hates to lose. maybe some of his bull dog attitude should rub off on the other oriole pitchers. as for this series with the rd sox. i would very much like to see the orioles sweep,but i do not think it will happen. it appears that zach britton knows what he has to do nad he is getting it done.

Guidry - throws hard and always down in the zone.

With that stiff right leg during his delivery he reminds me of Tommy John.

Looks like Alfred E. Neuman!

Chris Tillman.
Only with a fastball. And a nasty sinker. Oh, and poise. Almost forgot, not afraid to pitch inside. Did I mention mound presence?

Mike Hampton

Left handed Mike Boddiker. Very similar demeanor on the mound with a pitch that only he knows how to throw.

Chuck Norris. It makes perfect sense.

He reminds me of myself, only with a better fastball, better sinker, better curveball, better looking girlfriend, better house, generally better looking.......Oh - and he got drafted a few slots above me.

ps...well said matt

The next Rookie of The Year

I love the Josh Beckett comp. If only the team around Britton was good enough to get the O's into the playoffs. I'd love to see a 23-year-old Britton dominate the Yankees in October just like a 23-year-old Beckett did eight years ago.

I can't think of any other comps that haven't been mentioned, so I'll just slip back into my dream about how good this starting rotation could be when Brian Matusz is ready to take the hill.

PS - Has there been any talk in the warehouse about an extension for Guthrie, Dan? Something like 3 years, $27MM to keep him here through his age 35 season seems to make sense.

A new born puppy losing his milk teeth, ready to bite! Hope we have hin for years to come!
I like the idea of Rookie of the Year...he's his own man!

Aroldis Chapman

I like the Wally Bunker comparison and I would throw in Wayne Garland (albeit they were both right-handed). Let's just hope he stays away from the injuries which ended both of their careers.

A hongry Storm Davis

Zach Britton

Jesus Christ

Joe Price.
Rick Honeycutt.
Dan Schatzeder.
Floyd Bannister.
Mark Langston.

Sound like he reminds people of any left hander that has ever one a game.

How about my cousin chris ? He's lefthanded.

...watching the Orioles play back in the 70's!!

The beauty of it all is that he doesn't have to be like anyone to get the results he's getting. Who was Palmer like? How about Mussina? Cuellar? I'm just glad he's wearing an O's uni...

My paperboy... He's 12 :-)

Better version of Scott Erickson

The lone All-Star pick for the O's in 2011.

A left handed Roger Clemens.

Cliff Lee with more velocity, just wait till he can spot up ohhh man watch out

Andy Pettitte, throws a heavy ball, throws just as hard, except he throws a sinker instead of a cutter

Left Handed Roger Clemens

A Yankee in 6 years if we're not careful!

BWebb or the next Yankee 20 game winner.

John Lester

Mark Langston.. Same body type, same delivery, same sinking fastball.

I find it interesting that nobody has mentioned Kevin Brown. Power sinker, decent slider. Brown had a splitter that he used pretty effectively as a changeup, and Britton's change definitely is a work in progress (which would justify a month-long demotion, one that would keep him in an Orioles uniform for an extra year), but his 1-2 punch seems most like a lhp version of Brown, and a bit less like Webb (who has better command, but not quite Britton/Brown velocity) to me.

Jeff Ballard with stuff. If Guthrie, Britton, Matusz, and Arrieta can get and remain healthy, this team will win, regardless of the 5th starter. I'm starting to see a little of the early 90's Braves takin' shape here.

Tom Phoebus

Brian Matusz. It's scary how similar their deliveries are.

"Brian Matusz. It's scary how similar their deliveries are."

Umm ... other than them both being left-handed, this just isn't close to true.

Sam Mcdowell.

@wdw Evidently you're forgetting what Brian Matusz's delivery looks like. Go look it up before you tell me I'm not telling the truth.

He reminds me of Jo Jo Lightingspeed and a young Scotty McGregor.

McGregor had great poise and excellent mechanics.

Stuff and make up reminds me of Mike Hampton when he was healthy

I don't remember Mike Flanigan throwing sinking fastballs consistantly, but I've got a feeling Zack will have the same level of value to the O's that Flanny had. Flanny was a "rock" who won a Cy Young award. I see the same game face in Zack Britton that I remember seeing in Mike Flanigan

....WALLY BUNKER but Britton is righthanded and 4 years older. Wally Bunker won something like 19 games in his rookie year as a teenager. He got a sore arm(elbow) the next year and was never the same pitcher. I hope the Orioles are more cautious with Britton than they were with Bunker.

Jim Kitty Kaat.

no one I've ever seen before.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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