Will Chris Young (SD) Return to Form?

It’s been a long and winding road for the San Diego Padres’ Chris Young.  He is just two years removed from posting a 3.12 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over 30 starts.  In the subsequent two seasons, he’s made a total of 32 starts thanks to a slew of injuries:

  • In 2008 he missed time after taking a line drive off the bat of Albert Pujols to the face (he would spend more time on the DL later in the year)
  • His 2009 season ended in mid-June, ultimately requiring surgery for a torn labrum

Fantasy owners have to wonder if Young could regain his form as one of the top pitchers in the game.  He has looked good this spring, though there are a few red flags.

First, the good:

  • 3.57 ERA
  • 16 strikeouts over 17.2 innings
  • He’s had some bad luck, with a .356 BABIP

The bad luck isn’t really “good” news, but at least it helps put his 1.64 WHIP in perspective.  However, while his luck should improve, he’s also walking people at an alarming rate.  With 10 walks thus far this spring, he is sporting a 5.23 BB/9.

His career walk rate is 3.49, but struggling with control shouldn’t be surprising given his shoulder problems.  However, even the career number may not be accurate given his numbers the past two seasons:

  • 2008 – 4.22 (102.1 innings)
  • 2009 – 4.74 (76.0 innings)

That is the only true worry that we should have at this point (outside of getting Ws pitching for the Padres).  The rest of his peripherals look good, which brings hope.

The strikeouts, however, are a great sign.  For his career he has posted a 7.85 K/9, though that is dragged down from his early career and abbreviated ’09 campaign.  From 2006-2008, he had posted marks between 8.18 and 8.69.

He’s an extreme fly ball pitcher, which certainly helps pitching in Petco Park.

As long as he can rediscover his control, Young is set to be a sleeper in all formats.  While he doesn’t have the upside of some other young pitchers, he’s someone I’d much prefer over names like Joe Blanton or Bronson Arroyo.  He just provides a bit more upside.

If you’d prefer to leave him undrafted, watch him closely over his first two or three starts.  If he proves healthy and successful, do not hesitate to pounce.

What are your thoughts?  Is Young someone worth gambling on?

If you would like to see a free preview of the Rotoprofessor 2010 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide (available for just $5) now including a Top 50 Prospects for 2010 List, click here.

For some 2010 projections, click here.  Among those we’ve already covered include:

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