Chris Young did not pitch in the Majors at all last season. On Tuesday against the Twins, the 35-year-old will be looking to cap off his outstanding first half as one of baseball's best comeback stories.
Young made just 60 starts over the previous six years since his 2007 All-Star season with the Padres due to ongoing issues with his shoulder. But after undergoing surgery to relieve a nerve condition called thoracic outlet syndrome, the 6-foot-10 Princeton product has come back strong this year and helped solidify a Mariners rotation that has put up the second-best ERA in the American League.
He's gone 8-4 with a 3.11 ERA since being signed just prior to the start of the regular season after the Nationals released him.
"It's the health," Young said of his first-half success. "Being out there and taking the ball every fifth day and helping this club. Going out there and giving innings and giving the team a chance to win. That was my goal coming in and I feel like my track record in terms of performance has always been decent. And if I stay out there and healthy, I've always performed relatively well. So I'm confident in who I am, what I do, what I have to do to be successful and I feel blessed to have a clean bill of health at this point."
Young has gone 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA over his last four starts and his .206 opponents' against batting average for the season is fourth best in the AL. He's been particularly effective at Safeco Field, going 5-1 with a 2.19 ERA and holding opponents to a .178 average in eight starts.
Young will be making his sixth career start against the Twins, but just the second since 2005. He lost a 5-4 decision at Target Field on May 16, giving up five runs on a season-high 10 hits.
After dropping the first of the four-game series on Monday, the Twins will give the ball to Phil Hughes, who has been the Twins' best starter this season, though he's struggled of late.
Hughes has given up five or more runs in three straight starts, but his season ERA still sits at 3.95. His last start came against his former team, the Yankees, and he gave up seven runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings. He didn't pitch as bad as his line score indicated, however, as he gave up three of those runs in the seventh.
"I felt good early," Hughes said. "I felt like my stuff and my command was miles ahead of my last two starts. I can take that away from it."
Twins: Nolasco pitching with discomfort
Right-hander Ricky Nolasco met with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson on Monday, and admitted he has been pitching through elbow discomfort this season.
Nolasco will be examined by team physician Dr. John Steubs on Tuesday.
"After some coaxing, he finally admitted he's been struggling since Spring Training with a bit of a sore elbow," Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "He said he can't get loose more than anything. Said it gets tight. Some days it's better than others. But [Sunday], he had a real difficult time getting loose, so we called it a day after two innings. And we talked to him [Monday] and he admitted something was going on, so we'll get him checked out."
Mariners: Maurer shining in relief role
After struggling as a starter for the past two years, young right-hander Brandon Maurer has continued to excel since being recalled on June 25 to help out in the bullpen. Maurer has yet to allow a run in seven innings in four relief outings after going 1-4 with a 7.52 ERA in seven starts this year.
He's allowed just three hits with two walks and nine strikeouts in his seven frames and with the shorter work load, his velocity has jumped into the 96-97 mph range.
"That's nice to see," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "But the thing that's really been impressive is just the control. He's throwing strikes. He threw hard as a starter, but he didn't throw strikes."
• Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, who was named to his first All-Star Game on Monday as an injury replacement, ranks second in the AL in home batting average at .357 and in RBIs with 38 at Safeco Field.
• Minnesota infielder Brian Dozier's leadoff hit Monday gave him 11 consecutive games of reaching base vs. the Mariners.
Mike Vernon is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.