Will the resurgent Ryu Hyun-jin be back on the mound next season?
MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball (MLB), highlighted players whose contracts are set to expire with their teams in a piece titled “9 Free Agents Who Need to Finish the 2023 Season Strong.
“Shohei Ohtani is likely to sign the largest free-agent contract in MLB history,” the publication said, noting that the offseason’s main storyline is a different one, but “many other high-profile players are also looking to increase their value this offseason.”
Included in that list is Ryu Hyun-jin. “Typically, pitchers returning from Tommy John surgery need time to get back on track. But Ryu is different. Since coming off the disabled list, the left-hander has filled in as Toronto’s fifth starter with a 2.65 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in seven games and 34 innings pitched.” “At 36 years old, he won’t be able to command the same $80 million contract he did the last four years, but if he continues to perform like this, he could earn a multi-year deal that seems unlikely.”
The Toronto organization took note of Ryu’s performance against Cincinnati on April 21. Toronto social media capture
Pictured here is Ryu greeting fans at Dodger Stadium on July 26.
In fact, Ryu has quickly regained his game and has been consistently on the mound. In his comeback start against the Baltimore Orioles on July 2, he gave up four runs in five innings before being pulled from the rotation. He picked up his first win in 444 days with five innings of two-run ball against the Chicago Cubs on April 14, and then went five innings against the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians for his third win. He also pitched five innings against the Colorado Rockies and Oakland Athletics in September, holding them to two runs each.
Ryu’s fastball has averaged just 87.4 miles per hour (140.6 km/h) this season, according to BaseballSabermetrics, which tracks MLB records. However, he uses both a fastball and a cutter to attack hitters. Hitters have repeatedly struggled with Ryu’s numbers. His low WHIP (1.06) is a testament to that. It’s also his best number since joining Toronto.
Meanwhile, if Ryu signs a multi-year deal, as MLB.com projects, he will need more time to reach 99 wins in the KBO. Since joining the Hanwha Eagles in 2006, he has compiled a 98-52 record with one save and a 2.80 ERA in 190 games and 1269 innings over seven seasons.
In 2013, he joined the Los Angeles Dodgers via the posting system, where he played for six seasons before signing a four-year deal with Toronto for the 2020 season. As of Aug. 8, his MLB career record is 182-107 with an ERA of 3.24 in 78 games, 47 starts and one-third of an inning.
In addition to Ryu, MLB.com also highlighted Luis Severino (New York Yankees), Blake Snell (San Diego Padres), Cody Bellinger (Cubs), Lucas Giolito (Cleveland), Aaron Nola (Philadelphia Phillies), Eduardo Rodriguez (Detroit Tigers), Matt Chapman (Toronto), and Teoscar Hernandez (Seattle Mariners).