The Toronto Blue Jays, who are the only team in the majors with five pitchers rotating through their starting rotation this season, are getting another strong starter back. Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, who has been rehabbing for nearly a year after undergoing elbow ligament reconstruction surgery in June last year, is close to returning.
MLB.com,메이저사이트 the official website of Major League Baseball, reported the news of Ryu’s rehabilitation on June 26 (KST). Ryu, who is rehabilitating in Dunedin, Florida, where Toronto’s spring training is held, visited the nearby Tropicana Field to join the team when Toronto traveled to Tampa Bay Rays, and also threw bullpen pitches on the 24th.
“Having lost a significant amount of weight while recovering from Tommy John surgery, Ryu is now nearing the end of his rehabilitation,” MLB.com reported. Ryu also said, “I’ve been saying from the beginning that ideally I’d like to join the team in the second half after the All-Star break. That’s my goal now, and I’ll plan my schedule accordingly.”
MLB.com reported, “The All-Star Game is just around the corner. The All-Star break is July 11-14. Given the optimistic outlook for his recovery, he should be back by the end of July, with some wiggle room. So where does Ryu fit in: in the bullpen? Or somewhere else?” is the question of Ryu’s role upon his return.
Toronto has only five pitchers who have started 51 games this season. Alec Manoa (11 games), Kevin Gausman, Chris Bassett, Jose Berrios, and Yusei Kikuchi (10+ games) have been in the rotation since opening day.
[Photo] Toronto catcher Alejandro Kirk, pitcher Alec Manoa, and pitching coach Pete Walker (from left). ⓒGettyimages (All rights reserved)
MLB.com writes, “Nearly two months into the season, Toronto is the only team in the majors to have used only five starting pitchers. It’s remarkable, but realistically unlikely to last much longer. When Hyun-jin Ryu is ready to return, a role will be waiting for him,” and naturally, Ryu will be given a chance to start. The season is long, and there are always variables, big and small. It’s impossible to go through a season with only five starters, and we expect to see Ryu when he returns in July.
On April 24, Ryu received a round of applause after pitching out of the bullpen in front of his teammates. “It was the most enjoyable moment since I started my rehabilitation,” Ryu said. “I met the players for the first time since spring training. It feels really good to see all the players. It helped me find my energy again,” he said.
MLB.com wrote, “Ryu doesn’t need to get his fastball up to 100 mph, but some pitchers struggle to find their feel after returning from Tommy John surgery. Ryu’s changeup will be a key component in all of this, as he is a pitcher who relies heavily on it. The breaking ball, which is hard on the elbow, is one of the last things to work on, but he’s doing a good job with all the steps.
“I started throwing curveballs and changeups. I need to increase my pitch count and be able to throw my cutter as well. Again, the most important thing is to get in shape to be a starting pitcher,” said Ryu, confident in his return to the mound.
MLB.com wrote, “It’s easy to forget what kind of player Hyun-jin Ryu was, but it’s important not to. Signing Ryu to a four-year, $80 million deal signaled that Toronto was ready for the team to grow and develop around a young core of players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bissett. He posted a 2.69 ERA in a COVID-19-shortened 2020 and played a key role in Toronto’s postseason run.” MLB.com highlighted Ryu’s performance in his first season with the team.
MLB.com continued, “In his next 37 starts, Ryu posted a 4.55 ERA. He didn’t look like the dominant left-hander with a 2.95 ERA entering 2021. After surgery and more than a year of rehabilitation, could he make a magical comeback? He’s fighting the odds and time, but he’ll get a chance to write his own comeback story in the final year of his contract.