Chris Young will make his return to the Mets today, a little over a year removed from the same surgical procedure as Johan Santana. Young pitched effectively for the Amazins last season, allowing just five earned runs on twelve hits and eleven walks while fanning twenty-two in twenty-four innings pitched. However, given it’s his first start of the year after major surgery, who knows what to expect from Young against the Washington Nationals.
Young’s career has been plagued by injuries and he hasn’t made thirty or more starts since 2007. However, when he’s been healthy, the tall righty has been effective. For his career, Young owns a 3.74 ERA (4.66 xFIP), 1.202 WHIP, 7.8 K/9 and 2.21 K/BB. More
remarkable is that he’s had success with a below average fastball.
Actually, Young’s heater used to average around 89 mph, but that was before all the injuries. In four starts last year, his fastball averaged 84.7 mph; it was the same in 2010 and 85.8 in 2009. Despite sitting in the mid-80s, Young will throw his heater often, to the tune of over 70% of the time. Young also mixes in a slider, which he’ll probably throw in the mid 70s, and a change, which he can throw in the mid to upper 70s. Occasionally, he’ll throw a slow curve which could fall below 70 mph. For someone who doesn’t throw hard, Young generates a decent number of strikeouts, relying more on movement than velocity. During his career, Young’s fastball has been worth 0.78 runs above average (RAA) per 100 pitches, while the slider has been worth 0.97 RAA/100 and the change worth 0.91 RAA/100. In other words, Young has been able to use three pitches effectively during his time in the Majors.
Furthermore, Young has been able to succeed as a fly ball pitcher. 53.3% of the outs recorded by Young during his career have been via the fly ball, with just 28.2% coming on the ground. Fortunately, Young has played mainly in pitcher’s parks-Petco in San Diego and more recently Citi Field. Nationals Park is fairly spacious, so it isn’t a bad place for Young to make his return. And even with the new dimensions at Citi, Young can survive as a fly ball pitcher if he continues to strike batters out.
Overall, the Mets shouldn’t count on Young for a lot this year. Given his injury history, he will probably land on the disabled list again, and the team will have to turn to Miguel Batista or Jeremy Hefner. Still, if the Mets could get at least a handful of solid starts from Young, the signing will have paid dividends.