Ryu Hyun-jin (36, Toronto) has been a hot name since spring training in February. After undergoing elbow ligament reconstruction (Tommy John surgery) in June of last year, Ryu was aiming for a return later this year. Rehabilitation from elbow surgery usually takes a year to a year and a half, but Ryu was confident of returning around the All-Star break.
The question in the local media was who would be out of the starting rotation when he returned. Ryu has been a starter his entire KBO and Major League career. The bullpen was out of the question. Toronto manager John Schneider was adamant that “Ryu will be in the starting rotation when he comes back in the second half.” But Toronto already had five good starting pitchers.
Kevin Gausman, Alec Manoa, Jose Berrios, Chris Bassitt, and Yusei Kikuchi. None of them were easy to get rid of, given the money spent and the expectations going forward. It was difficult to predict, and we didn’t really have a clear plan, so at the time we were just saying, “We’ll see if any of them go down with injuries or whatever, and maybe Kikuchi, who had some bullpen experience last year, can help us out in the bullpen.”
But few expected Alec Manoa to be the scapegoat. Manoa, who made his major league debut with Toronto in 2021, had a breakout rookie season, going 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA in 31 games last year and finishing third in American League Cy Young Award voting. There was no doubt that he would be the team’s next ace.
In reality, Manoa has a big frame, a heavy fastball, a changeup, and good command. There was also a calmness about him that is hard to find in a 25-year-old. This year, however, he struggled with his command for some reason. He had become a completely different pitcher in a year. In fact, his walks per nine innings soared to 6.1, up from 2.3 last year. His strikeout rate also jumped by three, from 6.6 to 9.6 per nine innings.
He was sent down to the team’s training facility in Florida in June to work on his balance, but that didn’t solve the ultimate problem. He struggled against Cleveland on July 11 (giving up four runs in four innings) and was sent down to Triple-A. But Toronto got a breather. Exquisitely, Hyun-jin Ryu is back and ready to take over.
Since returning from elbow surgery, Ryu has pitched solidly in his first three games. With a 1-1 record and a 2.57 ERA, he’s exceeded expectations for a pitcher coming off a year and two months on the disabled list. In his last two games, he allowed two unearned runs and no earned runs in nine innings. Local media are excited to bring back the “vintage Ryu” that has become synonymous with Ryu.
Caitlin McGrath, a Toronto reporter for North American sports publication The Athletic, wrote about Ryu’s comeback on Saturday (June 16), saying, “Ryu made a vintage-looking comeback. He’s free of the Tommy John fumbles,” and that he’s not feeling the after-effects of the surgery. It’s not unreasonable to expect even better pitches in the future, as players who have undergone Tommy John surgery usually adjust as they regain their senses. 토토사이트
McGrath believes that Ryu’s timely return will also help Toronto’s future. Ryu’s four-year contract is up after this season, but Manoa still has plenty of years left with the team. McGrath believes that Ryu’s return to form has given Manoa time to rebuild.
‘Manoah had too many strikeouts and too many pitches, and that was the crux of his problem all season – he couldn’t pitch efficiently and effectively enough,’ McGrath said. ‘The low point was in June, when he went to the lowest level of the Rookie League, the Florida training facility, to work on his issues. When he returned in July, he was a little better, but he still didn’t look like the Cy Young candidate he was a year ago.
“Ryu is back, and Toronto’s entire rotation is strong. Manoa was simply their sixth-best starter, and he was sent down to Triple-A to be ready when they needed him. For Toronto, it’s a way to prepare Manoa for the long haul.
The decision was also made because they felt that Ryu was pitching well enough. Ryu’s three-game average fastball velocity was 87.4 mph (140.7 km/h), a significant drop from last year’s 91.1 mph (146.6 km/h). His hard-hit rate is also down from over 40% the past two years to just 32.6% this year. With a little more velocity and fewer walks, we can expect more consistent pitches.