Chris Young is going to be fine, Royals fans
Royals starting pitcher Chris Young drew the short straw last night, being the first Royals starter to have a bad outing.
The 6’10 right-hander surrendered six runs over just 4.2 innings of work, surrendering nine hits and walking two more. The Royals offense was also stifled by right-hander Collin McHugh, failing to score off the 28-year old over his seven innings of work.
First of all, I told you so.
Despite me telling you so, we are baseball fans. More specifically, we are Royals fans. And we are prone to wonder and panic.
Young got absolutely lit up. Inversely, Chien-Ming Wang stuck out three over his 2.1 innings of work and Danny Duffy, who gave up a run in his inning of work, has looked fairly dominant in his previous outings.
So I’m here to tell the April baseball fan that Chris Young is going to be just fine and no, we shouldn’t replace him just yet.
I would tell the same Royals fan that no, we shouldn’t move Soria down in the bullpen line just yet and that no, we shouldn’t move Alcides Escobar down in the lineup.
Okay, actually yeah, we should definitely get Escobar the heck out of the leadoff spot because bad hitters shouldn’t hit leadoff. I just needed an excuse to say that (also, take a look at that OBP and wRC+ from that link. Woof).
To get back on point, the theme of April is to make knee-jerk reactions to players performance, instead of falling back on who we know they are as players (except for Alcides, of course, because if we were to fall back on who he is as a hitter, he wouldn’t be hitting leadoff. I’m done, really. I promise).
Here is what we know. Chris Young is really good at what he does. He is, hands down, better than any Royals starting pitcher at getting hitters out.
We also know that he does this via an extreme ability to get hitter to hit the ball in the air.
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Let’s backtrack 24-hours, and analyze where we were.
Young was about to walk into Minute Maid Park, yes the little league park, to pitch a baseball game for the Royals.
He was about to pitch against a team that hits more fly balls than any other team in baseball, and has more of those fly balls leave the yard than any team in baseball.
Long story short, if there was every a game that we could put down as a probable loss and be totally okay with it, it was this game.
But you may say “Ryan! If the Astros hit so many fly balls, don’t they play right into Chris Young’s hands?”
And to that I would say yes, I understand the logic. But understand that Chris Young is so good because he gets batters to hit the ball in the air against their own terms.
He notoriously works up in the zone, and gets weak contact. When he doesn’t allow weak contact, he falls back on pitching in Kauffman Stadium and having a Royals outfield that catches everything.
For a team that tries to hit the ball in the air, and looks for pitches up in the zone to drive, that strategy goes out the window.
And unfortunately for Young, he doesn’t exactly have Yordano Ventura-like stuff to get him out of trouble when his game plan goes south.
So yes, Young was bad yesterday. If you listened to his post game interview, he talked about how he stood by his pitch selection and game plan, and I believe him.
This was just one of those games that even if he had executed perfectly, he probably would have walked out of there with a loss, especially with the Royals offense showing very little life.
His performance reminded me of what Jeremy Guthrie experienced basically every start of 2015. Even if he executed his pitches, his stuff just wasn’t good enough to get Major League hitters out.
Young’s game plan was consistent and didn’t execute all that terribly. But that Astros team was going to feast on his game plan, and he just doesn’t have the stuff to get around that.
Is that ideal? Well, no. We obviously wish everybody had that Ventura or Volquez stuff.
However, if he’s going to hold hitters to a .200ish BAA, I’m okay with a start like this every once in a while.
Especially when that guy is the Royals fifth-starter.