Cody Bellinger (28, Chicago Cubs) was once the star of the show for Los Angeles Dodger fans. He was an all-around talent who could hit well, hit far, and defend and run well. Star power was in abundance. He could literally make baseball look good.
After a decade of envying the Angels’ Mike Trout, 바카라사이트 the best player in the league, Dodger fans saw a chance to strike back with Bellinger. There was a lot of hope that he could develop into a player like Trout in the future. That expectation reached its peak in 2019, his third year in the league, when Bellinger won the league MVP after batting .305 with 47 home runs, 115 RBIs, and a league-bombing 1.035 OPS in 156 games.
The Dodgers’ two-hit ace at the time was Bellinger. And the real ace on the mound was Ryu Hyun-jin (36, Toronto). Of course, they had an iconic ace in Clayton Kershaw. However, his frequent injuries didn’t help the team throughout the season. It’s not that Ryu’s pitching quality was inferior to Kershaw’s, as evidenced by the fact that he led the National League in ERA. In fact, Ryu was the ace of the postseason.
However, their relationship ended in 2019. After the 2019 season, Ryu became a free agent and left the Dodgers, signing a four-year, $80 million deal with Toronto. Bellinger and Ryu played together for just over three years. Coincidentally, after Ryu’s departure, Bellinger also began a downward spiral.
He struggled in 2020, suffered a shoulder injury, and after much media speculation about his “struggles” and “rebound” throughout 2021 and 2022, he was non-tendered last winter. He signed with the Cubs shortly thereafter, which came as a shock. Ryu also disappeared from view for a while after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow ligament surgery in June last year. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ two ace pitchers in 2019 were in danger of disappearing from the scene.
But on Thursday (June 14), the two met at Toronto’s home Rogers Centre. Ryu wore a Toronto jersey and Bellinger wore a Cubs jersey. It was the first meeting between the two players, who had never faced each other before. The result was a fairly even game. In the first inning, with runners in scoring position, Ryu struck out Bellinger to end the inning. In the second meeting in the fourth inning, Bellinger drew a walk to harass Ryu. However, it was Ryu who had the last laugh as Toronto won the game.
Ryu had the last laugh despite giving up a single to Bellinger to get the win.
Cody Bellinger, one of the best hitters in the National League in the second half.
In fact, there was lighthearted banter before the game. During the game, Sportsnet, Toronto’s host broadcaster, shared a story about Bellinger’s appearance. It was an anecdote that spoke to Bellinger’s recent confidence and good form.
“It’s a funny thing,” the Sportsnet crew said as the two players faced off in the first inning. Ryu and Bellinger played for the Dodgers for a couple of years and never met each other.” “After yesterday’s game, Cubs manager David Ross joked with Bellinger, ‘He (Ryu) is a lefty, do you want to rest him tomorrow?’ And Bellinger was like, ‘Are you kidding? I really want to start,'” he chuckled.
Bellinger rebounded perfectly, batting .328 with 18 homers, 59 RBIs and a .935 OPS in 87 games this season. He had an up-and-down first half of the season, battling injuries, but once he found his groove, he exploded offensively. In his last 29 games, he’s batting a staggering .387 with a 1.111 OPS.
The reason Ross was joking was nuanced, but it also has to do with Bellinger’s recent struggles. In his last seven games, he’s batting .400 with a .720 on-base percentage. He had a day off a few days ago, so there’s no reason to leave him out. Also, Bellinger isn’t a player with a skewed left-right split. He’s a lefty, but he’s been better against lefties this year. His OPS against righties this year is 0.900, compared to 1.028 against lefties. There was no reason to take him out of the lineup today.
Ryu opened a new page in his career with an emotional victory after 444 days ⓒYonhap/AP
Cody Bellinger is expected to get a good deal in free agency after this season.
One could argue that Bellinger didn’t need to take a break, given his recent good form. It’s a common sentiment for all hitters to want to keep playing when they’re hitting well. However, on this day, Bellinger went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
Ryu enjoyed his reunion with Bellinger. “He’s probably one of the toughest batters to face these days,” Ryu told the local media after the game, adding that he “handled the good pitches well” and that it was a fun battle. Coincidentally, both players are eligible for free agency after this season. It will be interesting to see what jerseys they will wear next.