The “Korean Monster,” Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, of the Toronto Blue Jays, is looking for his fourth win of the season. He needs it more than ever to keep his team in fall baseball.
Hyun-jin Ryu will take the mound against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California, on Sunday morning.
Ryu previously started against the Colorado Rockies on April 2, allowing two runs on five hits and four walks with three strikeouts in five innings. The quality start and four wins on the season were a long shot, but he made up for it by pitching well at Coors Field, Colorado’s infamous “pitcher’s graveyard” home.
Coors Field is located at an elevation of 1610 meters above sea level, which means that batted balls encounter less aerodynamic drag and significantly increase bat speed and distance. It is known as the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the major leagues, which is an absolute disadvantage for pitchers. It’s not just Hyun-jin Ryu, it’s every pitcher in the big leagues who doesn’t want to pitch there.
Since starting his big league career with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2013, Ryu hasn’t had much luck at Coors Field until last year. He struggled mightily, going 1-4 with a 7.09 ERA in six games and 26⅔ innings.
The last two days in Colorado were different. Despite the two-run homer he gave up to Elefuris Montero in the second inning, he was effective with his knife-edge delivery and excellent command of his pitches.
It didn’t matter that his fastball topped out at 145 mph and averaged in the low-to-mid 140s. He throws a mix of pitches, including a big drop slider that he’s been enjoying this season, a cut fastball, and his main weapon, a circle changeup, to shake up hitters’ timing.
Although a bullpen disaster prevented him from reaching four wins on the season, Ryu has done his part. Since returning to the major league mound in August after elbow surgery last June, he is 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA in six starts and has looked every bit as good as he did in his prime.
Ryu has gone five innings in each of his outings, with the exception of a four-hit shutout against the Cleveland Indians on May 8, when he went down after being hit in the leg by a pitch. He has continued to be the veteran starter Toronto has come to expect, contributing significantly to the team’s postseason hopes.
Ryu had four days of rest after his start against Colorado and will now look to pick up his fourth win of the season against Oakland. It will be interesting to see if he can continue his unbeaten streak against Oakland, as he is 2-0 with a 5.40 ERA in three career starts against the A’s since joining the big leagues in 2013.
His most recent outing against Oakland didn’t go well. Ryu was pounded by the Oakland bats for five runs on six hits in four innings last April. However, this was two months before he underwent surgery on his left elbow. It’s important to consider that he wasn’t 100%.
Oakland is arguably the weakest team Ryu has faced since his post-surgery rehabilitation and return to the big leagues. They are 42-97 this season with a .302 winning percentage and are in last place in the American League West. With a weak batting lineup, Ryu should feel more confident facing them. 바카라
Oakland’s weakness is their bats. The team is batting .224 this season, which is dead last out of 30 teams in the majors. Their team OPS is also dead last at 0.671. The big one, however, is Ryu Hyun-jin. Oakland has 145 team home runs on the season, 22nd in the majors, which is more than competitive.
Toronto also has a lot riding on Ryu’s shoulders. Toronto is 77-62 so far this season, good for third place in the American League East and the third wild-card spot. They are just 0.5 games ahead of the fourth-place Texas Rangers, with 23 games remaining in the regular season.
The injury bug hasn’t been kind to Toronto. With key infielders Bo Bissett and Matt Chapman on the disabled list, as well as Danny Jansen, Ryu’s designated hitter, the Jays are not operating at 100% capacity.
Until Jansen returns, Ryu will have to work out the kinks with his new catcher for the time being. The key will be how the 11-year big league pitcher handles the change in environment.
Oakland’s starting pitcher will be left-hander J.P. Sears. Sears is 3-11 with a 4.60 ERA this season.
Meanwhile, Ryu is 78-46 with a 3.24 ERA in his major league career. Given the number of games Toronto has left to play this season, they are well on their way to reaching the 80-win plateau.
As an individual, Ryu needs to maximize his value in his remaining starts. His four-year, $80 million free-agent contract with Toronto ahead of the 2020 season ends this year.
Either way, whether he stays in Toronto or moves to another major league club, Ryu will need to remain competitive as a big league starter in order to secure a favorable contract.