After Mike Pelfrey's season ended in April due to Tommy John surgery, the New York Mets had a lot of trouble finding another reliable fifth starter in their rotation.
The Mets tried Chris Schwinden at first, but that didn't work out. He has since been claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays. The next pitcher was the veteran Miguel Batista, who was inconsistent as a starter and has since been shifted back into the bullpen. Jeremy Hefner has also made three starts, but he has had a 1-2 record in that role and is now in the bullpen as well.
Finally, on June 5, Chris Young made his long-awaited return from yet another shoulder surgery that has limited him to just 10 starts since 2009. Nonetheless, he was very effective in his four 2011 starts, before the shoulder injury ate up the rest of his season, and he has picked up from where he left off in his two first starts of the 2012 season.
Going into the 2012 season, the Mets were widely expected to not contend at all. However, they have defied the odds and are currently four games above .500. One big reason for the Mets' success so far has been their starting rotation, led by current Cy Young Award favorite R.A. Dickey and the veteran Johan Santana, who recently threw the first no-hitter in Mets' history. The Mets have also gotten solid pitching out of Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee, but ever since Pelfrey went down, the Mets just could not find a dependable fifth starter for the long run.
Enter Chris Young.
The 6'10'' Young came up through the Texas Rangers' farm system and and went 12-7 with a 4.26 ERA in 164.2 innings and 31 starts during his first full season in 2005. After getting traded to the Padres prior to the 2006 season, Young went on to have his best season so far with an 11-5 record and a 3.46 ERA.
Can Chris Young stay healthy for the rest of the 2012 season?
In 2007, Young got off to a great start and made the NL All-Star team through the Final Vote process. For much of the season, Young was leading the league in ERA, but his teammate, Jake Peavy, ended up taking that title along with the 2007 NL Cy Young Award. Young finished the year with a 9-8 record, a 3.12 ERA and a 1.098 WHIP. Earlier in the season, Young signed a four-year $14.5 million extension with the Padres that included an option for 2011.
Young only made 18 starts in 2008 due to a few stints on the disabled list, but he finished the year with a 7-6 record and a 3.96 ERA. He also threw the only complete game of his career that year. Two starts after that, he hit his first career home run.
In 2009, Young got off to a 4-2 start but lost his next four starts before going on the disabled list, which ended up costing him the rest of the season. He had shoulder surgery later that year and worked hard to rehabilitate his shoulder to pitch in 2010. In 14 starts, Young had his worst statistical season with a 4-6 record and a 5.21 ERA.
After throwing six shutout innings in his first start of the 2010 season, though, Young left the game with a right shoulder strain and missed almost all of the entire season, with the exception of three starts at the very end of the season. He ended the year with a 2-0 record and a 0.90 ERA in four starts. The Padres then declined to pick up Young's 2011 option, which made him a free agent.
In January 2011, the Mets decided to take a chance on Young, signing him to a one-year contract. He made four brilliant starts early in the season, despite only getting one win before yet another shoulder injury ended his season. The Mets then re-signed him to a minor league contract this year and placed him on the Triple-A disabled list until May 10. He made three rehabilitation starts in Single-A St. Lucie and three more with Triple-A Buffalo before the Mets finally recalled him on June 5.
Assuming Young does not have any new issues with his surgically repaired shoulder, he will be a big part of the Mets' rotation for the rest of the 2012 season, and time will tell whether the Mets will re-sign him again in the offseason.
Nonetheless, Young's presence definitely has already improved the Mets' rotation chemistry because he brings stability to the Mets' rotation. The Mets now have five proven starters that can go out and win on any given day.
Hopefully, Young's contributions will help the Mets even more as they try to stay afloat and contend in the NL East.