KC Royals long reliever/spot starter Chris Young is helping bring back what has become an almost forgotten role among major-league baseball teams. Young earned the win in Game 1 of the 2015 World Series by pitching three shutout frames in the Kansas City Royals 14-inning, 5-4 marathon victory over the New York Mets.
Tuesday night’s victory comes after Young tossed four innings of long relief in Game 1 of the American League Division Series after a rain delay, started Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, and stepped in for an extra-inning relief win in Game 1 of the World Series. Overall, the versatile 6′ 10″ Chris Young has contributed 11.2 innings this post-season for the KC Royals, while allowing a mere 2.41 ERA while striking out 15.
That’s dominance by any measure.
The interesting part of the story is that Chris Young had been slated by Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost to pitch Game 4 in New York’s Citi Field, but entered Game 1 in the 12th inning as the bullpen duel stretched deep into extra frames. Filling in where necessary for the KC Royals is nothing new for Chris Young.
He’s been doing it all season.
The 36-year-old Chris Young signed with the Kansas City Royals this spring when general manager Dayton Moore was the only executive willing to offer him a major-league deal after Young won the Comeback Player of the Year award for Seattle in 2014. Young signed a veteran minimum deal for one year at $675,000, with up to an additional $5.3 million in incentives.
The KC Royals got a bargain, even if Young has maxed out his bonus money.
In return, Young logged 123.1 innings with an outstanding 3.06 ERA. He appeared in 34 games, including 18 starts. Chris Young stepped into the rotation when three starters went down in late May, and might have arguably held together the Royals rotation until they acquired Johnny Cueto at the deadline. Young then returned to the pen until making two starts at the end of September.
If you buy into the new-era stat Wins Above Replacement (WAR), Chris Young gave the KC Royals 2.5 wins more than a veteran AAA arm called up to the big leagues. Since teams roughly paid $7 million last winter per WAR, Young provided approximately $17.5 million in value this season.
"“My goodness,” Duffy said in admiration. “C.Y. is the ultimate competitor, man. A lot of things happen in a game like this, with the magnitude that it is, and some things can get lost in translation. But that guy took center stage tonight. I couldn’t be prouder to call him a teammate and a friend.”"
Dayton Moore has a number of tough free-agent decisions looming in the off-season. However, bringing back Chris Young should be more than an afterthought. Young did a fabulous job holding the pitching staff together through injury problems during the regular season, and has been the go-to guy when plans have gone awry for the Kansas City Royals in the playoffs.
Every team could use a guy like Chris Young. Dayton Moore needs to make sure he stays with the KC Royals.