The timing of Ryu Hyun-jin’s (36-Toronto Blue Jays) resurgence ahead of free agency is unbelievable. It’s his own good fortune, as he overcame a hopeless situation without giving up.
Ryu started the 2023 Major League Baseball World Series away game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S., on Nov. 21 (KST), throwing 83 pitches over five innings, allowing four hits, one walk, seven strikeouts and two runs (no earned) to lead Toronto to a 10-3 victory.안전놀이터
It was his first win in 444 days, coming against the Chicago Cubs on April 14 (five innings, two hits, two walks, three strikeouts, two runs allowed). With his second win in four starts, Ryu lowered his ERA from 2.57 to 1.89. It was his 17th consecutive scoreless inning, dating back to his last start against the Baltimore Orioles in his return from injury.
Slower, slower, slower… Pitching like a baseball guru, teaching a 100-mph fireballer a lesson
Against Cincinnati, Ryu was pitching like a baseball guru. While his four-seam fastball topped out at 89.6 mph (144.2 km/h) and averaged 87.4 mph (140.7 km/h), he used four different pitches, including a changeup (38), curve (16), and cutter (11). His “slower, slower, slower” delivery was on full display, with his fastball touching as low as 65.5 mph (105.4 km/h).
He struck out seven batters, his most since returning from injury, four of them for strikes, highlighting his off-speed pitches and knife-like delivery. In the fourth inning, he struck out right-hander Noelby Marte with back-to-back two- and three-pitch cutters and a four-seam low to the body. It came in like a machine, on the same pitch, without a single error. It’s a hard pitch to hit, but with the other pitches coming in, the batter had no choice.
In the fifth inning, on a full count, Hyun-Jin Ryu threw a seven-pitch 89.5 mph (144.0 km/h) fastball deep to the body against T.J. Hopkins that was just outside the zone. Hopkins, however, thought he was looking for a strike and headed for the dugout before the umpire called it. The pitch was so good that it fooled the batter into thinking it was a strike. The final batter of the fifth inning, Eli De La Cruz, swung at a high 88.2-mph (141.9-kilometer) four-seam fastball outside on Ryu’s second pitch and froze on a low 66.8-mph (107.5-kilometer) curveball in the middle on his third pitch for a groundout.
Cincinnati’s other starter on the day, right-handed fireballer Hunter Green, making his first start in two months since June 18 against the Houston Astros with a right hip injury, contrasted with Ryu by allowing nine runs (eight earned) on 10 hits (five home runs) with three walks and four strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings. The loss was his fifth of the season (2-2) and raised his ERA from 3.93 to 4.72.
Green threw a fastball that topped out at 100.3 mph (161.4 km/h) and averaged 98.4 mph (158.4 km/h) on the day, but hitters read his pitches well. A four-seam (51), a slider (32), and a changeup (7), it was essentially a monotonous two-pitch arsenal, all of which were fastballs, so hitters got used to them. It was an iconic game that proved that even in the era of the fastball revolution, a pitcher’s best qualities are command and taking away hitters’ timing.
“14 months after Tommy John surgery…he’s rewriting the script,” Toronto media praise
After the game, the Toronto Star, a Canadian media outlet, wrote, “Let’s not forget Ryu Hyun-jin’s performance. Making his fourth start since undergoing Tommy John surgery last June, the 36-year-old hasn’t allowed an earned run in 14 innings in his last three games. It usually takes pitchers 12 to 18 months to return to the big leagues after Tommy John surgery, so it’s not surprising to see him healthy now. What is surprising is how well Ryu has been performing.
“It takes 18 to 24 months for a pitcher to regain his pre-injury command and control. For a veteran, it’s like food for thought. Ryu, who has never been a pitcher who overwhelmed hitters with power, never topped 90 mph (144.8 km/h) on the day, averaging 87.4 mph (140.7 km/h), but it was a tricky one. He kept hitters off-balance with a great mix of pitches and threw every weapon in his arsenal for strikes.”This is not the kind of pitching a pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery should be doing 14 months later. But Ryu is rewriting the script,” praising his ability to defy conventional wisdom.
MLB.com said, “It was a reminder of what Ryu is capable of at his best. He doesn’t throw harder than other pitchers, and he doesn’t have a ‘wow’ pitch, but he’s smart. He reads hitters’ swings and thoughts better than anyone else, which makes him dangerous for young or aggressive hitters. De La Cruz is a perfect example. In two two-strike counts, he struck out on a 66 mph (106.2 km/h) and 67 mph (107.8 km/h) curveball.” “Ryu has come back faster and in better shape than we expected in spring training.
Ryu’s four-year, $80 million free agent contract with Toronto ends after this season. Normally, pitchers with a Tommy John prognosis would have a hard time getting a good deal in free agency, but Ryu is different. After a career-high season with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2019, where he led the National League in ERA (2.32) and won the Cy Young Award, Ryu is expected to get another big deal this winter.
His age in his mid-to-late 30s will make it difficult for him to sign a long-term deal, but he should be able to get a one- or two-year deal worth $10 million or more per year. In his mid-30s, a second Tommy John surgery left him in a hopeless situation, but Ryu persevered with his rehabilitation. His resurgence has come at a great time, and he is calling his own shots.