Chris Young: Why Mets' New Pitcher Puts the Pressure on Their Catchers in 2011

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Chris Young: Why Mets' New Pitcher Puts the Pressure on Their Catchers in 2011
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Searching high and low for a fifth starter this offseason, the Mets have signed free agent pitcher Chris Young to a one-year deal, pending a physical.

With a base salary of just $1 million, which could increase to as high as $2.5 million if he reaches certain milestones, Young is the definition of a low risk, high reward pitcher, something the Mets have been focusing on.

Issues with injury have kept Young from fulfilling the potential most saw during his 2006 and 2007 campaigns (20-13, 3.29 ERA).

In the last three seasons, Young has made just 36 starts. However, during that time, he has posted some numbers which Mets fans will find encouraging.

During that span, Young's ground ball to fly ball ratio is 0.43.

In his previous home, Petco Park, just 6.17 percent of his fly balls (421) went for home runs.

His ERA is ridiculously better at home than on the road (1.95 at home vs. 4.66 on the road).

What does all that mean for the Mets? Well, right now, very little. However, what it does mean is that Young is moving from one of the best pitcher's parks in baseball to Citi Field, which had the lowest Park Factor for home runs in the NL last season.

In Citi Field, a fly ball isn't leaving the ballpark. Chris Young gives up almost exclusively fly balls. Sounds like a match made in heaven to me.

However, one stat which isn't so favorable is Young's stolen base stats. Since 2007, opponents are 81-for-83 stealing bases against him.

If the Mets want to keep runners from taking that extra base against Young, they'll need to get great defense out of catchers Josh Thole and Ronny Paulino.

Thole, in just 66 starts, has caught 41.9 percent of base stealers (13 of 18) with a .991 fielding percentage and a 3.753 ZR.

Paulino, for his career, has caught 30.7 percent of opposing base stealers (119 of 268).

Last season, the Mets led the National League with 130 stolen bases. San Diego finished second with 124, but the No. 3 and No. 4 spots were held down by the Washington Nationals (110) and the Philadelphia Phillies (108).

The Mets will need to lean on Thole and Paulino even more than they already were with the addition of Chris Young to their starting rotation.

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