July 4, 2012; Flushing, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Chris Young (55) talks with pitching coach Dan Warthen (59) during the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE

Chris Young: The Final Piece of 2012 Mets’ Starting Rotation


The moment New York received word that Mike Pelfrey would require season-ending Tommy John surgery, Mets’ fans viewed the unfortunate news as a sign of things to come. After all, coming into the 2012 season the effectiveness of ace lefty Johan Santana was a huge uncertainty, coming off career-threatening shoulder surgery, missing 19 months in the process. On top of this, New York did not make any additional moves in the off-season to add depth to the starting rotation, as New York headed into 2012 with the same identical starting rotation — excluding Chris Capuano, who signed a 2-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers — as the previous season.

Upon missing the presence of Mike Pelfrey, who started his 2012 campaign strong, posting a 2.29 ERA in his first three starts of 2012, New York gave 25-year-old Chris Schwinden the initial audition to fill in and replace Pelfrey’s spot in the rotation. However, that opportunity was short-lived after Schwinden posted an ERA above 11.0 in his first — and only — two starts. Manager Terry Collins then turned to Miguel Batista, who was initially re-signed during the off-season to fill the role of long reliever while spot-starting when called upon. Batista ended up pitching better than Schwinden, but still not effective enough to keep a spot in the rotation. Not many solid options in the minor-leagues seemed available for the Mets to call upon.

However, New York fans forgot about one key option Mets general manager, Sandy Alderson made available the moment he re-signed Chris Young to a minor-league deal just days before the start of the 2012 season. By no means were many ecstatic by the signing, as Young only started four games for New York before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery during the 2011 season. This wasn’t a new experience for Young, who had been faced with multiple surgeries in years past, which was the reason San Diego decided to let Chris Young walk despite being a successful pitcher — .569 winning percentage with a 3.60 ERA  — in five seasons with the Padres.

Trying to Solidify Starting Rotation after Mike Pelfrey’s Injury

                                Chris Schwinden   Miguel Batista   Chris Young

Games Started               2                                 4                            6

ERA                              11.25                           4.00                     3.41

IP                                      8                                 18                         37

BB                                     3                                  7                           8

To the delight of Mets’ fans Young has returned to the Mets’ starting rotation after an extensive throwing program upon agreeing to re-sign with New York. Furthermore, Young has thus far stayed healthy and given New York quality starts. Although Young has returned to be an effective starter, some fans would argue that Young has faltered in the late innings of his outings. While this is true, Young hasn’t been helped by the Mets’ defense. Whether you like the definition of a quality start — six innings pitched, three earn runs at most — Young has given the organization just that, and this is all you can ask from Young.

                    CHRIS YOUNG’S STARTS BY THE NUMBERS (VIA METS.COM)

DATE

OPPONENT ERA IP HITS ER BB SO

06/05

@ WAS 3.60 5 6 2 1 2

06/12

@ TB 3.38 5.2 9 2 2

4

06/17

CIN 3.06 7 9 2 2

2

06/23

@ NYY 3.30 6 4 3 3

4

06/28

@ LAD 3.30 6.1 6 2 0

6

07/04

PHI 3.41 7 5 3 0

3

It isn’t a question of Young having the ability to be an effective pitcher, but rather a question of  Young being able to stay healthy during the span of an entire season.  He has proven to be the perfect fit to round out a solid starting rotation. Keep in mind, Citi Field also plays to his strengths — even with the fences moved in — as Young is a fly ball pitcher. Heading into the All-Star break the New York Mets are clearly in contention, and that is all that matters. While a lot of New York’s early success has to do with Santana staying healthy, and the magnificent year R.A. Dickey has put together, avoiding the injury bug while improving the bullpen and team defense will play a vital role in the New York Mets fighting for a playoff spot during the final games of the season.

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Tags: Chris Capuano Chris Schwinden Johan Santana Kevin Baez Los Angeles Dodgers Miguel Batista Mike Pelfrey New York Mets San Diego Padres Sandy Alderson Terry Collins Tommy John Surgery

  • Mike Lecolant

    I was one who initially questioned Sandy Alderson’s long held devotion to Young. But he definitely plugged a big hole. Not many number five starters compare favorably.