Chris Young will start a must-win game for the Padres in a few minutes. It’s just his fourth start of the season and third since coming back from a lengthy rehab.
Of course, the big question on every Padre fan’s mind is if Young will be up to the task tonight. It’s anyone’s guess, but a strict glance at his results thus far seems to say yes, considering Young’s allowed just two runs in nine innings since returning from his injury.
Still, he has a 5.88 xFIP on the season, which leaves a lot to be desired.
Perhaps the best indicator of what to expect from Young is where his stuff is now compared to the Chris Young of old. Let’s compare:
Young has been strictly a fastball/curveball pitcher in his two September starts, throwing a mid-80′s fastball about 4/5 of the time, and a mid-70′s curve the rest of the time.
Impressive? No. Young’s velocity has topped out around 87 mph, with the breaking stuff in the 73-78 mph range. Not only does the curve lack plus velocity, but it also lacks plus break, moving more like a slider. You hear about breaking pitches with “slider velocity and curve break” a lot, but rarely do you hear that inverted.
So, that sounds like pretty bad news. Of course, though, Young was never a hard thrower; he always succeeded because of the unusual angles his height creates and his flyball tendencies work perfectly in Petco.
Still, though, a look at Young’s pitch data from 2008 show his September stuff to be far inferior. That year, he averaged 87.6 mph with the fastball and could scrape 90 on occasion, with the slurvy breaking ball in the 77-80 range. Young’s also lost about three inches of “rise” on his pitches since then, which reduces his big advantage in the first place. His changeup, a decent third pitch back in 2008, has yet to materialize. It is worth noting that his stuff, however, has not changed from his first start of 2010, where he dominated, so he’s at least back to April form.
So…it’s going to be tough for Young tonight, in what’s likely his final start of the 2010 regular season. He doesn’t have much other than his height, decent command, and guile to navigate the Cubs lineup. Here’s hoping he manages to cobble together a fourth solid start in spite of it.