Chris Young: Ace


Chris Young is regressing. We all knew this much was bound to happen when he started off his season with a whacky streak of success. It was clear that his peripherals and performance would line up at some point. Well, now they’re lining up, but it’s not anything like anyone could have ever expected.

On a day when the Mariners desperately needed a win to break their season-threatening losing streak, Chris Young stepped up with seven innings of shutout ball. He struck out eight, walked three, and allowed two hits while lowering his ERA to 3.04. Another day, another ace-like performance. Chris Young is regressing, all right. His peripherals for this start absolutely matched his results, and his results were amazing.

Young, of course, is not a true “ace” pitcher. He’s not a power arm and doesn’t run the dominant K/BB numbers you’d expect from a true top-of-the-rotation arm. He certainly doesn’t have the track record of success, since he’s been around forever as a guy who’s hurt or sucks. WAR hates him, still. But it’s hard to argue with what he’s done so far, and how his season has just gotten better and better.

Remember when Young would win games despite walking more guys than he’d strike out? Now he’s just overpowering guys, which is the weirdest thing that could ever be true about Chris Young. His strikeouts are way up, and it’s easy to see why he’s succeeding now. Limit walks and hits, get guys out, and let your outfielders catch all the fly balls you allow. This is a sustainable model. And look, it’s working.

It’s fair if you still want to hold your breath every time Young’s on the mound. I certainly still do that, and probably always will. But the more of this we see, the more we must consider that Young’s simply made some unbelievable late-career adjustment and is now fundamentally different than he used to be. All we can be sure of is that this is a hell of a lot of fun.

Endy Chavez was a late scratch with a jammed pinky, which means the Mariners got a break from having a leadoff hitter with a sub-.300 OBP. Instead they got an 0-fer from James Jones at the top spot, which dropped his OBP below .300. Dustin Ackley slotted in at number two and delivered another two-hit game, so maybe he’s alive. Or maybe the rest of his season is to be believed. Guess we’ll have to wait and see!

The Mariners put up three in the third, which is amazing because did you know the Mariners are allowed to score in these games, not just their opponents? Weird rule nobody ever talks about. Jesus Sucre singled leading off the frame, Ackley doubled, and Bud Norris intentionally walked Robinson Cano to load the bags. He then hit a swinging Kendrys Morales to force in a run. Kyle Seager singled in the second run and Logan Morrison scored Cano with a single of his own, though Morales was out at home on the play to end the frame.

The Mariners added another run in the fifth on back-to-back doubles by Ackley and Cano, and it turned out to be the game-decider. Danny Farquhar put two men on base via a hit batsman and a walk, then yielded to Joe Beimel. Beimel moved the runners up with a wild pitch, then Seager botched a play to allow a run without getting anyone out. Yoervis Medina came in and gave up an RBI single to J.J. Hardy. All of a sudden, the M’s were in trouble.

But fear not! All-star closer Fernando Rodney sealed the deal with a fun ninth. He struck out Ryan Flaherty, walked David Lough, and got Nick Markakis to line out. Lough tried to steal second and was caught, ending things for Baltimore and giving the Mariners their first win of the 2014 season, or so it feels.

Tomorrow the Mariners get a chance to split the series, with Roenis Elias going up against Miguel Gonzales at 1:10. A series split! That would be very nice. Here’s to hoping for a series split, because the alternative is bleak.