For Young, it's just a matter of staying healthy. After spending significant time on the DL for most of the past four seasons - mainly due to shoulder injuries - Young has spent the early part of this season working through the minor league ranks, with an eye on returning to the big leagues. The right-hander made his Bisons debut Thursday after making three starts in Single-A, and he showed why he belongs in the majors when healthy.
Young tossed six scoreless innings for the Herd Thursday, allowing no runs and just two hits. Despite Young's efforts, the Bisons bullpen faltered after a series of impressive performances, and the Herd fell 3-0 in the chance to sweep Columbus. Thursday's game concluded a record 16-game homestand for the Herd, and the Bisons now hit the road for an 8-game Ohio trip through Toledo and Columbus.
If Young's effort is any indication, his game is fast approaching a major-league level.
"If he can do the same thing he did today five days from now, he's pretty close to being ready," Bisons manager Wally Backman said. "He's a smart pitcher. That's why he's had the success that he's had in the big leagues. Now, all we hope for is that we keep him healthy."
After maintaining a 3.18 ERA in three starts for Single-A St. Lucie, Young raised his game in his first start with Buffalo. The Princeton grad didn't overpower opposing batters with pure power throughout the outing, with a fastball topping out at 84 mph, but he found success by inducing frequent flyouts.
Many times throughout the afternoon, the 6' 10'' Young was able to use his height to his advantage, by throwing his ball on a sharp downhill angle when necessary.
Consequently, the tallest Herd pitcher induced pop-outs that sailed way up in the air, and Herd fielders made the easy outs.
"That's Chris, he gets pop-ups like that," Backman said. "He's always been that type of pitcher. He's smart, he reads swings on hitters very well, he knows how to go back-and-forth...He's able to pitch at angles up and down."
And the Ivy Leaguer prefers it that way: to beat batters through intelligence.
"I don't worry about velocity," Young said. "I worry about life, and the ball had life to it. There weren't that many hard-hit balls...I tried to mix my pitches, work up and down...get ahead in the count, and be aggressive."
Young's shoulder did not appear to cause much of a problem Thursday, as he made it through 87 pitches without seeing a noticeable drop-off in performance. Young's ball continued to move on command into the later innings, and the right-hander is pleased with the way his shoulder held up.
"At this point in my rehab, it's about feeling good most importantly," Young said. "But then also, you'd like to have the results to go with it. Today, I had both. It's a work in progress, there's still things to improve upon, but I'm happy with the results and happy with the way I felt."
But reliever Chuck James struggled for the first time in a while, after going 7.2 consecutive innings without allowing a run. The scoreless streak ended quickly, as James was torched for a homer by Beau Mills, the first batter he faced.
Things would not improve for James, as he allowed two more hits before being relieved by Pedro Beato. Columbus added two more runs in the inning, and just like that, a scoreless duel was turned into a 3-0 Clippers lead.
From there, the Columbus relievers went on lockdown mode to preserve the victory. After Clippers starter T.J. McFarland exited the game in the sixth inning, the Columbus bullpen allowed just one hit and no runs the rest of the way. As a result, Columbus was able to notch the victory and deny Buffalo the sweep.
In spite of the loss, the Bisons finished the record homestand with a winning mark of 9-7. The Herd will carry a record of 31-23 into the Ohio roadtrip, and remains in good position heading into June.
Even if guys like Young continue to leave for the big leagues, this year's early-season success shows that the Herd can maintain success the rest of the way.
"We're okay," Backman said. "Considering all the players that we've lost to the major league club, I think that we've played pretty well."
Bisons Notes: Thursday's annual Kids Day saw a crowd of 13,631 at Coca-Cola Field...Reliever Jeff Stevens pitched the 9th and allowed no runs, extending his scoreless streak to six innings...Valentino Pascucci extended his IL-high on-base streak to 25 games, with a walk in the first inning...The Bisons had 4 hits on the afternoon and committed one error.
from team press release