2011 Season in Review: Chris Young

The New York Mets went 77-85 in 2011. As suggested by the sub-par record, there were a fair share of ups and downs throughout the season. “2011 Season in Review,” which will be an ongoing series, will analyze every single Mets player that picked up a ball or glove in 2011, for better or worse. This particular “2011 Season in Review” will take a look at starting pitcher Chris Young.

Chris Young was one of several low-risk signings by Sandy Alderson last offseason, but it did not pay off due to Young’s latest in a series of shoulder injuries.  The towering veteran had not started 20 games in a season since 2007, and he had pitched just four games since mid-June of 2009, when he was placed on the DL before undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum.  He missed almost all of 2010 due to a torn anterior capsule in his shoulder before making a few strong starts for the Padres at the end of the season, but San Diego chose not to pick up his option.  In January, Alderson signed him to a one-year, $1.1 million deal.

Citi Field seemed like it could make a good home for the 6’10″ righty, who has never been overpowering but relies on control and fly-ball outs.  The 32-year-old, who spent five years with the Padres, was clearly far removed from his successful, 30-start seasons in ’06 and ’07, but the Mets hoped he could regain his health, start anew and be a strong fourth or fifth starter in 2011.

For a fleeting few weeks, it appeared that the signing might pay off.  Young started against the Phillies in the Mets’ fourth game of the season and allowed one run in five and a third innings, striking out seven and walking four.  More notably, he did some serious damage at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two RBIs against Cole Hamels.

Young had a stellar outing five days later, giving up one hit and one run in seven innings against the Nationals.  But there was a sign of things to come just a few days after that: Young was going to miss his next start due to biceps tendinitis.  He ended up missing two weeks before returning to face the Nats again, and he allowed three runs in four and two thirds.  On May 1, he baffled the Phillies through seven frames of two-hit, shutout ball in what would be his last appearance of the season.  In his four starts he went 1-0 with a 1.88 ERA, 22 K, 11 BB and a 0.96 WHIP.

On May 9, we learned that Young had, for a second consecutive year, torn the anterior capsule in his right shoulder. (This was also the day we learned that Jenrry Mejia was going to have Tommy John surgery.)  It was a shame to hear, both for the Mets, who really could have used Young’s help the rest of the way, and even more so for Young, who has simply been unable stay on the field.

Alderson will likely consider re-signing Young this offseason to a very cheap deal, on the off chance that he can contribute as a fifth starter.  He has proven that he can be effective when he pitches — but that will only matter if he ever becomes fully healthy again.

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