KC Royals manager Ned Yost needs to move struggling starter Chris Young to the bullpen, while he sorts out his mechanical problems.
After a surprisingly strong 11-6, 3.06 ERA as a critical swingman in 2015, Chris Young has gotten lit up by opponents in the first month of 2016. He’s 0-3, with a 7.90 ERA and hitters are not missing his high fastball. Instead they’re driving them out of the park. Young has given up a home run in every start, even though he’s only managed to survive less than five innings in two out of his three outings for the Kansas City Royals this season.
In fact, Chris Young admitted to MLB.com writer Michael Wagaman that he’s struggling with his mechanics and pitch movement:
"“The last few times, I felt my arm slot being a little bit high and I made the adjustment in the third inning today. I felt like it changed a little bit. The results got better, my slider got sharper and had more depth to it.“We all struggle at times. It’s not fun. This team finds a way to pick each other up and at some point it will be my turn to pick other guys up the way they’ve picked me up with winning while I’ve been struggling.”"
Chris Young is still an important part of the team. I haven’t lost faith in his ability to deceive hitters with his “ghost” fastball that they can’t pick up, and his tendency to induce weak fly balls. I still believe that KC Royals general manager Dayton Moore made a good decision by re-signing him this winter to a two-year, $11.25 million contract. But, he’s simply not running good right now.
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Also, Chris Young isn’t a guy that’s going to give the Kansas City Royals 33 starts in a season. The 37-year-old 6’10” right-hander has worn down in both 2014 and 2015 when asked to spend extended time in the rotation. Add in that long-men Dillon Gee and Chien-Ming Wang are both throwing well, and it’s silly to keep running Chris Young out to the mound when he’s simply not right.
Instead, Yost should move Chris Young back to the long relief role and only return him to the KC Royals rotation after he shows that his mechanics are back in sync.
The immediate beneficiary should be Chien-Ming Wang if Yost makes such a move, since fellow long-reliever Dillon Gee will likely take family leave after his wife gave birth to a daughter on Monday’s off day. I, for one, am curious to see what Wang and his rebuilt fastball can do as a starter. With Chris Young struggling, now is the perfect time to find out.