Starter Chris Young proves worth after 2011 surgery

Chris Young delivers a pitch in the first Chris Young delivers a pitch in the first inning of a game against the Atlanta Braves. (Sept. 29, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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ATLANTA -- The final numbers appear unremarkable. And without proper context, they are.

Chris Young posted a 4.15 ERA while tossing 115 innings in 20 starts for the Mets this season, including Saturday night's 2-0 loss to the Braves. But it's what Young endured before producing those numbers that gives them meaning.

The 6-10 righthander missed almost all of 2011 because of major shoulder surgery, the same procedure that has altered the career of teammate Johan Santana. But Young, 33, delivered exactly what the Mets expected when the nine-year veteran was signed during the spring.

Acquired as an insurance policy for the starting rotation, he stepped in when Mike Pelfrey had season-ending surgery and stayed healthy enough to stick.

"There were a lot of positives," Young said after capping his season by allowing two runs in six innings against the Braves.

In capping his comeback season, Young fell to 4-9, though he might have been in line for the win had the Mets mustered any offense against Braves lefthander Mike Minor. Instead, Minor threw 61/3 shutout innings and the Mets collected only five hits.

Mets manager Terry Collins said Young showed an increase in velocity in his last few starts, enough to convince him that he will be ready to withstand the grind of a full workload next year.

"Very, very impressive guy to work with and be around," Collins said.

Of course, where he might play next season is unclear. Young, an All-Star in 2007, is a free agent, and the Mets' starting rotation appears fairly set for next season. Even if the Mets believe Young once again can be an insurance policy, they might have cheaper alternatives already under team control, such as righthander Collin McHugh.

Also, Collins isn't as sure about Young's ability to pitch out of the bullpen if needed, which would require him to warm up quickly. It's a task complicated by Young's past shoulder issues.

Regardless of whether Young stays or goes, he helped his future by taking on his heaviest workload since tossing 1021/3 innings for the Padres in 2008. He called the season "something to build on," then thanked the organization for giving him a chance after shoulder surgery that some believed might end his career.

"These guys took a chance on me,'' Young said, "and I'll be forever grateful for that."

Notes & quotes: Despite his 128-pitch outing Thursday, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey will go for his 21st victory against the Marlins on regular rest. He will start Tuesday's game at Miami after the Mets briefly considered bumping him back an extra day. It will be Dickey's final chance to make an impression on Cy Young Award voters . . . Pitching prospect Jeurys Familia will make his first major-league start in Monday's series opener against the Marlins. Familia has made seven appearances since his September call-up. He generally has pitched well despite an inflated 8.64 ERA, the product of his one bad outing, when he was charged with five runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Phillies. Jeremy Hefner gets the assignment in Wednesday's season finale . . . Third baseman David Wright likely will get the day off in today's series finale. He was struck in the groin by a Craig Kimbrel pitch in the ninth inning but remained in the game . . . General manager Sandy Alderson joined the team for the remainder of the team's season-ending road trip . . . Chipper Jones is hitless (0-for-8) in the first two games of his final regular-season homestand at Turner Field.

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