The KC Royals need to accept that Chris Young just isn’t getting it done as a starting pitcher. After giving up seven runs in 2.0 innings Saturday night against the Astros, Young’s ERA is an unacceptable 6.52 ERA.
He’s given up an outrageous 21 home runs in 53.2 innings, which works out to 3.55 every nine innings. He’s issuing 3.9 walks per nine and a career high 10.2 hits per nine. The only metric that looks good is his career high 9.2 K/9.
What appears to be happening to me is that teams are looking for his high fastball and swinging as hard as they can at the modest offering. Thus, they’re either crushing it, striking out, or walking. Young has become a three true outcomes pitcher, but not in a good way.
The problem is, who can take his place? Yordano Ventura is serving an eight-game suspension. Both Dillon Gee and Chien-Ming Wang pitched extensively in blowouts the last two days. And Mike Minor has suffered a setback in his rehab and is resting. Kris Medlen did throw 4.2 innings without allowing a run at AAA Omaha, but KC Royals manager Ned Yost said he wants to see Medlen build up his pitch count past the 69 he threw on Saturday before activating him.
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Medlen appears to be the prime candidate to take over for Young, but he wasn’t exactly dominating hitters when he suffered inflammation in his right rotator cuff (shoulder). Medlen’s 7.77 ERA in six starts this spring doesn’t make many Kansas City Royals fans anxious for his return. Let’s just hope that Medlen’s terrible start was mostly due to his injury.
The KC Royals desperately need some stability in the rotation. Either Medlen needs to come through two full seasons past Tommy John surgery, or Mike Minor’s long-awaited has to live up to everyone’s hopes. Dayton Moore’s job will become much easier if one of his Atlanta dark horse reclamation projects can take a meaningful rotation role in the second half of 2016.
Last year, Moore had the magic touch when it came to off-season acquisitions. Chris Young produced a stellar 3.06 ERA in 123.1 innings pitched as a starter and reliever. Joe Blanton provided good service as an emergency arm. Ryan Madson dominated in the pen after three years away from the game. Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto gave the KC Royals exactly what they needed in the playoffs. And Kendrys Morales won a Silver Slugger award as best DH in the AL for his work in the middle of the Kansas City Royals lineup.
In 2016, Moore’s winter moves appear to be more of a mixed bag. Reliever Joakim Soria has been good, not great, with a 3.09 ERA. Ian Kennedy has been just about what the KC Royals expected (an innings eater from the no. 3 position in the rotation). But re-signing Chris Young hasn’t turned out well at all. And Alex Gordon has missed more than a month after a slow start.