According to Kansas City Star writer Vahe Gregorian:
"Yost also suggested one of the reasons the Royals had used him [Chris Young] less late in the season was to have him fresh for “these type of scenarios,” reflecting the organization’s cognizance of how a fatigued Young had faded in the second half of last season as he was recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome."
Young has shown a pattern of dominance early in the season, that fades as the fatigue of taking the ball every five day wore him down. Chris Young won the Comeback Player of the Year Award for Seattle in 2014, fueled by a strong first half in which he went 8-6, with a 3.15 ERA. However, Young wore down in the second half, finished with a 4-3 record and 4.70 ERA after the All-Star break.
"After posting a strong 10 starts after officially joining the rotation May 10 for a 3.10 ERA, Young seemed to run out of gas in July. In five starts following the KC Royals 2-0 loss to Minnesota on July 2, Chris Young allowed 14 runs in 26.2 inning pitched (4.72 ERA). Yost moved Chris Young back to the bullpen after the KC Royals acquired Johnny Cueto, and didn’t use him from July 28 to August 12."
After resting most of August and September, Young’s dominance returned in two late-season starts and four innings of relief in Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Astros. Young pitched five no-hit innings for the KC Royals on September 27, despite receiving the news that his father had passed away from cancer that morning.
Chris Young followed up that performance by allowing one run over 6.1 innings against Minnesota October 2. Then, when called upon to relieve Kansas City Royals starter Yordano Ventura after Game 1’s rain delay, Young stifled the Astros for four innings by holding them to one run while striking out seven.
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Clearly, Ned Yost is going with the hot hand in picking Chris Young over Kris Medlen to start Game 4 in Toronto.
Yet, the choice doesn’t come without some questions. Chris Young is a strong fly-ball pitcher that typically retires hitters by pitching up in the zone. The Rogers Centre in Toronto is one of the most home-run friendly environments in the American League and the Blue Jays led all of baseball in runs scored and home runs.
A pitch to contact, fly-ball pitcher seems to be the kind of hurler that the Blue Jays could blow out of their home park.
However, other numbers support Ned Yost’s decision. Not only has Chris Young dominated during his most recent appearances, he also enjoys an outstanding .233/.347/.330 triple slash line against the hitters in the current Blue Jays lineup over his career.
Back in early October, I said that it was time for the KC Royals to ride Chris Young’s right arm for all its worth. So, yes, I like Ned’s decision even though my Kings of Kauffman co-editor David Hill prefers Kris Medlen.
KC Royals fans can only hope Ned made the right call.