When Ryu Hyun-jin (36, Toronto) announced in June of last year that he would undergo Tommy John ligament reconstruction surgery on his elbow, many Toronto media outlets feared and predicted that this could be the end of Ryu’s relationship with Toronto.먹튀검증
There was a reason. The rehabilitation period for Tommy John surgery is usually a year to a year and a half. Ryu is in his mid-30s and this was his second Tommy John surgery of his career. Naturally, it was more conservative and reasonable to assume closer to a year and a half than a year. Ryu’s four-year contract with Toronto ends this year, so he’ll be out for the 2023 season before returning. In that case, Ryu’s last appearance on a Toronto mound could have been last June.
Even when Ryu announced that he would return in the second half of 2023, the local media was skeptical. Even if he did return, the general consensus was that he wouldn’t be able to return to his old form, so there was a steady stream of calls to acquire a starting pitcher before the trade deadline. This was a common sentiment among the so-called “beat writers” covering the Jays. His age and lengthy rehabilitation made it unlikely that he would be able to make a successful comeback.
But now that Ryu has returned and completed a four-game start, many of those doubters are gone. It’s true that his fastball isn’t as good as it used to be, and he still has some nerves. But Ryu has silenced all the controversy with his performance. There is now hope for the future. There is a growing consensus that Ryu is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle for Toronto’s postseason hopes, and there is also a growing expectation that he will perform well in the fall.
Ryu made his second start of the season against Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, on April 21, allowing two runs (unearned) on four hits and one walk while striking out seven over five innings to lead the Jays to a 10-3 victory. The Jays were baffled early in the game by the dual faces of run support and defensive miscues, but in the end, Ryu continued to pitch solidly and Toronto was able to hold on for the win.
His fastball topped out at just under 90 mph (145 km/h) on the day. That’s not a fastball that typically survives in the major leagues. The cut fastball, one of the pitches that induces batters to hit, was still “not there,” but Ryu was different. He thrived under adverse conditions with his 70 mph changeup and 60 mph curveball.
He chose three different pitches with different velocities to dazzle his opponents. He continued his artistic pitching by adjusting the course and height of his pitches. He rarely threw the same pitch back-to-back. He was a master of the “rock, paper, scissors” game. Cincinnati’s hitters, so athletic but so inexperienced and so aggressive, fell into Ryu’s trap. Seven strikeouts in five innings. It was his most strikeouts in a game since returning.
Even the local media, which hadn’t fully believed in Ryu’s performance and his declining velocity, is now in agreement. It’s unnerving, but the results are in, so there’s nothing to say. In four games, Ryu went 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings pitched. He has a .214 batting average and a WHIP of just 1.05. His breaking ball metrics are also good, inducing weak contact. In his last three starts, excluding his comeback, he didn’t allow a single earned run in 14 innings.
Buck Martinez, a veteran commentator for Sportsnet, Toronto’s host broadcaster, has been raving about Ryu’s pitching in every game. “This is his fourth start since the Tommy John surgery, and he’s pitched very, very well since coming back,” Martinez said of Ryu’s first three games. His velocity is down, but his location has been very good. Has allowed just two hits in nine innings in his last two starts. Good curveball inducing ground balls.”
He also praised Ryu’s command of the game. The best part is that he throws so many different pitches that you never know what’s coming next. He also pointed out that the velocity difference between his pitches makes it difficult for opponents to hit the ball well. “When you throw a 60-mph curveball and an 80-mph fastball, it’s hard for hitters to sort it out,” Martinez said.
On the day, Ryu threw a variety of pitches, including 38 four-seamers (46%), 18 changeups (22%), 16 curves (19%), and 11 cutters (13%) out of 83 total pitches. His average fastball velocity on the day was 84.6 mph, which allowed him to get through the fifth inning with ease while suppressing hard contact, and his curveball had a 43% swinging strike rate. When asked to grade his curveball after the game, Ryu beamed, “100.” His changeup was good enough at 30%. His changeup was also good enough at 30 percent.
After the game, TSN’s Toronto reporter Steve Phillips also appeared on his radio program and praised Ryu’s successful return. “Ryu was fantastic,” Phillips said, adding, “The most amazing thing is that the feel for pitching is the last thing to come back. It’s the last part of your ability to manipulate the game of baseball,” he said, expressing amazement at Ryu’s monstrous adaptability in regaining feeling so quickly.
Explaining that it usually takes time and a process to regain feeling, and that Ryu’s time was short, Phillips continued, “He’s a pitcher that’s all about touch and feel (rather than velocity) anyway, and he has the ability to put a changeup in where he can throw a fastball. That’s his ability, and he’s still at the top of his game.”
Toronto’s social media accounts also labeled Ryu as a “master” and wrote “Ryu Hyun-jin form crazy” in Korean, drawing laughter from Korean fans. MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, joined the praise relay, saying, “Ryu dominated the opposition with his clever pitching.”