TORONTO (Reuters) - Nine years between postseason starts, Kansas City righthander Chris Young will be back on the mound in the American League Championship Series on Tuesday as the Royals try to push the Toronto Blue Jays to the brink.
Leading the best-of-seven series 2-1, Royals manager Ned Yost is taking a Game Four gamble by handing the ball to Young, who has made just two starts since late July.
However, both of those outings were effective with the lanky 6ft-10in (2.08 meters) journeyman allowing a single run over 11 1/3 innings of work.
”He’s got great numbers, he’s always had great numbers,“ Yost told reporters on Monday. ”He’s had good success against some of these hitters.
“His height and his deception in his delivery, his competitiveness. He had a great outing against Houston in Kansas City and his last two starts were really, really good.”
Young broke into the majors in 2004 and over 11 seasons has played for five different teams, never winning more than 12 games in a campaign.
This season, the 36-year-old posted a record of 11-6 in 34 appearances that included a 7-5 loss to the Blue Jays in July.
He also made a relief appearance in Game One of the AL division series against Houston, giving up a run in four solid innings of work.
“Moments like this are what I dreamed about and aspired to achieve going through surgeries and rehabs,” said Young, looking ahead to his start.
”It’s been nine years since I’ve been in the postseason, and now to have this opportunity and help this club who has, one, lifted me up, and secondly, given me an opportunity.
”Comparing myself to nine years ago, I guess at the time I thought there would be a lot more playoff opportunities going through it.
“Maybe have lost a few miles an hour on the fastball but hope I can make up for it with a little bit more between the ears.”
Known as a fly ball pitcher, Young has benefited from playing home games at the expansive Kauffman Stadium, which gave up the fewest home runs in the major leagues this season.
The cozy Rogers Centre however, is known as a hitters ball park and Young will be challenged to keep the ball from flying into the stands.
”If he’s got the fastball and slider going he’s going to be very, very tough,“ Yost added. ”Again, every pitcher has to execute.
“If a pitcher executes he’s going to be in good shape. If he doesn‘t, he probably won’t be in good shape. But we expect Chris to execute tomorrow (Tuesday).”
Editing by John O'Brien