Wow, it sure was nice seeing the flood gates open for the Blue Jays offence on Monday night’s 11-8 win over the Royals in Game 3 of the ALCS. Ryan Goins redeemed himself for error in Game 2 that sparked a huge Royals inning with a standout performance last night, going 2-4 with 3 RBI’s in Game 3. Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson (1BB) would boast the same stat line as Goins, leading to the Blue Jays running opposing pitcher Johnny Cueto out of the game in just 2+IP. The Blue Jays look to even up the series up on Tuesday afternoon for Game 4 against veteran righty Chris Young.
Growing up, Chris Young was a multi sport athlete in high school, excelling at both basketball and baseball (Standing at 6”10). In basketball, Chris would win MVP for his area, breaking his High School records in every category imaginable. In baseball, Chris would excel as the best pitcher on his team, and even playing designated hitter in off days. Young would decide to attend Princeton playing both sports and would earn Ivy League Rookie of the Year awards in each, break several of Princeton’s long-standing basketball records and graduating with a degree in Politics.
Young was selected in the third round with the 89th overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2000 draft. Young was subject to a lot of minor league trades early on in his career, being traded to the Expos, then the Rangers, where he would make his major league debut, and then be traded two years later to the Padres. Young would succeed in his first three years with the Padres, pitching to a sub 4.00ERA, and being named an All-Star in 2007.
It looked like a promising start in San Diego, but like all sports in San Diego, all good things must come to an end (RIP Chargers, RIP 2015 Padres Dreams). Young would suffer partial tears in his labrum and be sidelined to the DL for a majority of the next three years. (That includes his 2011 season where Young signed a 1 year deal with the Mets. Following that injury season, Young was a UFA, signing a Minor League Deal with the Mets for one more season in 2012).
For someone like Chris Young, whose baseball career looked so bright, he joins the endless list of pitchers like Kris Medlan, who we saw last night, that are initially seen as stars to only have endless arm problems. Young would overcome all odds in 2014, signing a one year deal with the Mariners. Seattle, at the time, was looking for a pitcher to fill injury holes in their pitching staff, and potentially subbing Young in as a fifth starter if need be. Young would do more than that, pitching to his old form from the early days with the Padres.
*Young’s 2014 Statline
Although these stats might not blow you out of the water, (especially the 0 WAR) not every fifth pitcher in your rotation, and one you have low expectations for, turns out to be Marco Estrada. Young would win the AL Comeback Player of the Year in 2014.
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Young would sign a 1 year deal with the Royals for $675,000 prior to this season (This deal includes a boat load of incentive bonuses including: Making the Opening Day Roster, Inning Pitched Goals, Game Start Goals. These deals are found very often in players who have long histories of injuries). Joining the Royals with the intent of being a long reliever, Young would still make eighteen starts over the 2015 season.
He would put up solid numbers in the first half, but as the calendar turned over at the All-Star break, Young would begin to struggle with being a starter, being sent back to the bullpen after a particularly bad stretch in late July. Despite stumbling in the second half, Young has pitched once in the 2015 Postseason to good results, throwing 70 pitches over 4.0IP of long relief work, allowing 1ER on 3H and Striking out 7! (It’s hard to quantify Astros strikeouts sometimes, as their plate discipline rivals that of Tiger Woods in a Denny’s Restaurant)
Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Most would think that with a slender 6’10 frame, Young would be blowing batters over with a 99mph Fastball. At this point his career, Young’s pitching is more comparable to Mark Buehrle in LaMarcus Aldridge’s body. When Young was in his prime in 2007, his fastball never blew batters away either with a vFA of 90.3, and in 2015 that number has dropped to vFA 86.4. Young has a four pitch arsenal: Fourseam Fastball, Slider, Cutter, and Changeup. It’s tough to call it a four pitch arsenal however, as Young’s Curveball and Changeup have combined for 2.5% of his pitches this year. (These two pitches have drastically dropped in frequency throughout Young’s career.)
Heavily relying on a Fastball/Slider combo, Blue Jays hitters will need to keep the same walk mentality they had in Game 3. Just like Cueto, a lot of Young’s pitches will be up in the zone. This is due to Young having one of the highest fly ball rates in the entire MLB at 55.1FB%. Looking back on Young’s career, he has predominately pitched well in bigger ball parks like Petco Park, Safeco, and Kauffman which rely heavily on getting those long fly ball outs in big parks. However the Rogers Centre isn’t a big park, and the Blue Jays lineup isn’t built to keep fly balls in the park.
Although Chris Young has pitched well in the 2015 postseason, he’s about to tackle his first start against the leagues’ most deadly offence. If the Blue Jays offence is as good in Game 4 as it was in Game 3, I’m predicting this might be a bullpen game for the Kansas City Royals. Chris Young’s game might be effective, but this is mostly shown in a bigger ballpark with a strong outfield defence behind him (2015: ERA 3.06/ FIP 4.52). With potential long reliever Kris Medlan already being used in Game 3, it will be interesting to see if the Royals potentially burn through a starter to get through Game 4 if things go south.