“It’s hard to expect any role”…Ryu Hyun-jin parting ways with TOR without a PS appearance? The cold shoulder of the US media
Ryu Hyun-jin started the Toronto Blue Jays’ 2023 Major League Baseball home opener against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Monday (Jan. 1), throwing 52 pitches in three innings, allowing two runs (two earned) on seven hits with one walk and one strikeout.
After undergoing Tommy John surgery last year, Ryu returned to the mound in July after a lengthy rehabilitation. He made a total of four rehabilitation appearances, starting with the Rookie League and gradually increasing the level, and in four games, he went 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA, raising expectations for his return to the big leagues. And when he returned to the mound, he showed that he was ‘healthy’.
In his first start back in the majors, Ryu gave up four runs (four earned) in five innings against the Baltimore Orioles, but his second start was a different story. Ryu threw a four-inning “no-hitter” against the Cleveland Indians, then rebounded with five innings of two-run ball against the Chicago Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds, and a return trip to Cleveland to complete a personal three-game winning streak.메이저사이트
The good vibes continued for Ryu, who went 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA in the month following his return to the big leagues. Ryu tossed five innings of two-run ball at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, where he had been at his worst throughout his career, held the Oakland Athletics to just two runs over five innings, and pitched his first six innings of a quality start (six innings or less) against the Texas Rangers.
Despite his “peak” against Texas, Ryu hadn’t won a game in three starts since September began, and he began to struggle a bit in his next outing. After throwing 4⅔ scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox, Ryu struggled, allowing six hits and two walks. In his last start, against Tampa Bay, he gave up five runs (five earned) on three home runs in 4⅓ innings, his worst outing of the season.
Ryu was tasked with taking the mound in a game where the Rays could have clinched the American League wild card on their own, but he went the shortest amount of innings since returning to the majors. In the end, Toronto lost to Tampa Bay, but Texas clinched a postseason berth with a sweep of the Seattle Mariners, so Ryu’s performance was a disappointment.
It wasn’t easy from the start. With one out in the first inning, Ryu gave up back-to-back singles to Randy Arozarena and Harold Ramirez to put runners on first and third. Then, against Isaac Paredes, Ryu was hit by a changeup low in the strike zone on the first pitch, allowing a single over the second baseman’s head. Fortunately, the ensuing runners on first and second didn’t score. Ryu struck out Curtis Mead and got the next batter, Josh Lowe, to fly out to end his rough start.
In the second inning, things settled down a bit. Ryu gave up a leadoff single to Manual Mago, but retired the next three batters, Christian Batancourt, Taylor Walls, and Junio Caminero, to get out of the inning unscathed. In the top of the third, he got the leadoff hitter, Arozarenas, to fly out to right field. Arozarenas cleared a big hurdle, but the next inning was a different story.
With the bases loaded, Ryu gave up back-to-back singles to Ramirez and Paredes. He got some breathing room by getting Mead to fly out to right field, but a two-pitch cutter to Lowe sailed into the middle of the strike zone for an RBI double. He got out of the inning without allowing another run, but didn’t see the mound again until the fourth inning.
On the day, the Blue Jays were able to keep the game close until the end of regulation after Ryu’s quick decision, but were unable to erase the magic number of postseason berths on their own, falling 5-7 in extra innings. However, Texas’ sweep of Seattle erased any remaining magic number one, and Toronto is now guaranteed a spot in the fall via the final wild card.
Once the postseason gets underway, Toronto will likely send their “ace” Kevin Gausman to the mound in the first round of the wild card. Then, one of Chris Bassett or Jose Berrios will take over the No. 2 starter role. And if they move on to the higher rounds, there’s a strong possibility that a non-starter will take the third spot and Yusei Kikuchi will be the fourth.
Initially, Hyun-jin Ryu had been the fourth starter, but a change in the batting order ahead of this game pushed him to the fifth spot. The postseason doesn’t require a fifth starter, and with his recent struggles, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see him start the fall as a starter, so we’ll likely see him in a somewhat unfamiliar role out of the bullpen in the postseason.
When asked about the move to the postseason bullpen in an interview with local media after Game 1, Ryu said, “It’s not something a player can refuse. If they tell you where to pitch and in what situation, you have to accept it. And I’ll prepare to do a good job accordingly,” he said, adding that he will do his best to fulfill the assignment.
In his 186 games in the majors, Hyun-jin Ryu has only pitched out of the bullpen once. On May 26, 2017, while still with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ryu took the mound in the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals and pitched four scoreless innings to earn a save.
On May 26, 2017, while still with the Jays, he pitched four scoreless innings of relief in the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals to earn his only save in the big leagues. But it’s possible he won’t even make the roster at all this postseason, with MLB.com saying, “On the pitching side, it’s hard to see a role for the fifth starter on this roster.”
To be fair to Toronto, it might be more effective to utilize the roster for other bullpen resources or outfielders than to keep a fifth starter like Kikuchi, who doesn’t have much bullpen experience and has been struggling. After ending the season with three consecutive early exits, it remains to be seen if Ryu will be able to make the postseason roster.