Ryu Hyun-jin’s (36, Toronto Blue Jays) return to the major leagues is finally in sight. Ryu had already pitched in the Rookie League and Single-A. He hasn”t even had to go through Double-A, and is now starting at Triple-A. This is his third rehab start since his surgery.
The Buffalo Bisons, Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate, announced on 15 May that “Hyun-jin Ryu will start a USA Minor League Triple-A game against the Toledo Mud Hens (Detroit Tigers) at 7:05 a.m. ET (6:05 p.m. local time) on 16 May at Salmon Field in Buffalo, New York, USA”.
The Buffalo Bisons announced that “Hyun-jin Ryu recently completed rehab appearances with the FCL Blue Jays (Toronto affiliate) and Dunedin Blue Jays (Toronto affiliate Single-A). For the Buffalo Bisons, he pitched four innings as a starting pitcher against the Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays) on 8 May last year as part of his injury rehabilitation.”
Ryu’s return to the major leagues is getting closer and closer. Ryu’s season ended prematurely last June when he underwent elbow ligament reconstruction surgery. He then spent a year rehabbing. For now, everything is going well. In late May, Ryu threw a bullpen session for the first time in front of his coaching staff and teammates. At the time, the Toronto team’s official social media account showed a picture of Ryu that showed him looking a little lankier than in the past. According to Toronto manager John Schneider, Ryu had lost nearly 30 pounds (about 13.6 kilograms).
Ryu then threw two normal live pitches in June, both with batters standing up. He also threw three innings in a simulated game. On the fifth, he took the field for the first time. He started a game against the FCL Tigers of the American Association of Minor League Baseball at the team’s camp training facility in Toronto, allowing one run on four hits with five strikeouts in three innings. He faced 13 batters and threw 42 pitches. His fastball reached up to 88 mph (141.6 km/h). It had been 398 days, or about a year and a month, since Ryu had pitched a live game.
After four days of rest, Ryu made his second start on 10 July. This time, it was a step up to Single-A. At TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, Ryu pitched a complete game, four innings, three hits, no walks and one strikeout against the New York Yankees’ Single-A affiliate, the Tampa Tarpons. He retired three straight batters in the first through third innings, including a five-pitch shutout in the second. In the fourth, he gave up back-to-back singles to Ben Rice and Omar Martinez before striking out Brennie Escarnio to end his outing. He threw 37 pitches. He threw five fewer pitches than he did in his previous Rookie League start, but his command was good, with a 73 per cent strike rate (27 of 37 pitches) and a fastball that touched 88.4 mph (142.3 km/h).
Ryu Hyun-jin prepares to pitch during a home game against the New York Yankees’ Single-A affiliate Tampa Typhons at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday. /Photo=Dunedin Blue Jays official social media accounts
Ryu Hyun-jin prepares to pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees’ Single-A affiliate Tampa Typhons at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday. /Photo=Dunedin Blue Jays official SNS
Ryu Hyun-jin pitches during a home game against the New York Yankees’ Single-A affiliate Tampa Typhons at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday. /Photo=Dunedin Blue Jays official SNS
Ryu Hyun-jin delivers a pitch during the first inning of a home game against the New York Yankees’ Single-A affiliate Tampa Typhons at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday. /Photo: Dunedin Blue Jays official social media accounts
Combined, his Rookie League and Single-A stats are seven innings, seven hits, four walks, seven strikeouts and one run. Most encouragingly, Ryu didn’t walk a single batter and didn’t give up a single hit. According to Toronto general manager Ross Atkins at the time, the club wanted Ryu to throw 80-100 pitches before returning to the big leagues.안전놀이터
Triple-A is the top level of the minor leagues. In effect, this means that Ryu”s return to the big leagues is imminent. However, he won’t be pushing himself too hard. He needs to be in good enough shape to throw 80-90 pitches before he can make it to the big leagues as a starter. The Buffalo News reported on the 15th that “Ryu is scheduled to throw four to five innings in a Triple-A game on the 16th, aiming for a pitch count of about 65,” and that “Ryu could make another start in a Triple-A game next week.” As before, the team will continue to check his body and mechanics after he completes the appropriate number of innings and pitches.
Ryu reached the big leagues in 2012 and has a 75-45 record with one save and a 3.27 ERA in 175 career big league appearances. He spent the 2019 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers before signing a four-year, $80 million contract with Toronto in 2020. In his first year with the club, he went 5-2 with a 2.69 ERA in 12 games in 2020 and 14-10 with a 4.37 ERA in 2021. Last year, however, he was sidelined with elbow ligament reconstruction surgery after just six games, and this year he is in the fourth and final year of his contract.
Ryu’s future in the major leagues may depend on how he performs in the second half of his career. It’s true that there are concerns as he enters his mid-to-late 30s, which is no small age for a baseball player. However, Hyun-jin Ryu has shrugged off these concerns in the past, and has made a successful comeback.
On the 15th, Blue Jays Nation, which covers the Toronto Blue Jays, reported, “At the time of the surgery, Ryu was 35 years old. “A little more than a year after his surgery, Ryu has made two rehab starts and is on track to make the team,” wrote Blue Jays Nation. “Ryu is expected to make at least two starts for the Buffalo Bisons before returning to the big leagues, and the team wants to see him throw 85 pitches or more. In his previous two rehab appearances, his fastball has touched 88 mph, down from where it was before the injury. He appears to be on track to join Toronto’s starting rotation in late July.”
Nowhere to go but down. A successful rehab start at Triple-A would put him on track for a late July return. We can’t wait to see him pitch in the major leagues.
Ryu Hyun-jin pitches in 2021 (multiple exposures) /AFPBBNews=News1