What does Chris Young have to do tonight?

So... here we are: a winning team at 2-1, only a game behind the Phillies for first place. Praised be Dickey, and in the name of the Dickey do we also praise Willie Harris, our RBI leader with a 1.355 OPS. Looking at tonight's 7:05pm game against the Phillies, I remain optimistic... cautiously optimistic. Our power-packed lineup is moving into Citizen's Bandbox Park, where a six-year-old can miss the tee and still somehow hit a home run. That being said, through three games at home, the Phillies managed to only hit two home runs: one by Ryan Howard, doing everything he can to prove his worthiness of $25MM, and one by Ben Francisco, doing everything he can to prove his worthiness over a hot-shot prospect with a broken hand. This wouldn't surprise me if they faced their own pitching, or the pitching of Oakland or Baltimore... Granted, they faced the Houston Astros, the bonafide worst team in the Major Leagues. What worries me, though, is Chris Young on the hill tonight. Young is a career fly ball pitcher, garnering his success from pitching in Petco Park. His last full season was 2007, and this particular statistic worried me:

2007 FB/HR
Home 0.8%
Away 7.6%

Young pitched twice in San Francisco, twice in Los Angeles, three times in Colorado, once in Atlanta, once in Seattle, once in Pittsburgh, once in Chicago (Wrigley), three times in Arizona, once in St. Louis, once in Milwaukie, and once in beloved Shea Stadium. At Coors Field in Colorado, he only surrendered 1 HR in 14 IP (one start was cut short due to injury). He did not pitch at all in Citizens Bank Park. His last start at CBP was April 17, 2009 and looked something like:

17-Apr @PHI 4.86 3.2 9 7 7 1 2 2 82-51 0.33

That's not terribly encouraging. I deliberately did not choose this game to go to because I can just see his fly balls getting ravaged over the fence and that stupid light-up liberty bell ringing while 35,000 drunken fans crack another beer and rejoice. To make me feel better about myself, and more importantly tonight's game, I took a look at his Spring Training numbers:

25.1 18 6 5 2 7 13 0.191 0.99 0.49 4.62 2.49 1.86

To me, this is much more encouraging. Yes, I know that up to half of the batters he faced are probably not in the big leagues. Yes, I know that he wasn't pitching in Citizens Bank Park. Yes, I know his K rates are down from his career. But the three times I was fortunate enough to watch him on the mound, I felt more confidence in his pitching than... well, let's say Oliver Perez, John Maine, Tim Redding, Brandon Knight, or Freddy Garcia pitching tonight. I tried to pull up some individual graphs from for Young's last Spring Training start, but it appears as those aren't available. Taken from, here's Young's last start (at home, 6/3/09) against the Phillies:

Pitch Type Avg Speed Max Speed Avg H-Break Avg V-Break Count Strikes / % Swinging Strikes / %
FF (FourSeam Fastball) 85.97 88.5 -2.01 12.46 64 42 / 65.63% 1 / 1.56%
CH (Changeup) 76.63 79.2 -0.48 6.59 15 7 / 46.67% 1 / 6.67%
SL (Slider) 76.82 78.6 2.91 2.14 13 6 / 46.15% 1 / 7.69%
CU (Curveball) 69 70 -0.32 -7.23 2 1 / 50.00% 0 / 0.00%
FC (Cutter) 86.7 86.7 -2.29 8.51 1 1 / 100.00% 0 / 0.00%


I'm not immensely familiar with Chris Young outside of what I've seen in Spring Training, so my analysis may be shaky. But from the small sample size I have, it looks like he relies heavily on his fastball, trying to change speeds and keep the hitter guessing between a changeup and a slider. The velocity difference is only ~ 9 MPH, probably what is largely responsible for the hitters being able to grab a hold of the ball. I don't know enough about horizontal and vertical breaks on pitches to make any judgments on how they'll play out when hit in CBP. But I lend you this information to draw your own conclusions: What does Chris Young have to do tonight to successfully keep the Phillies off the scoreboards?

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