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Blue Jays' Ryu Hyun-jin finishes 3rd in AL Cy Young Award voting

All News 09:09 November 12, 2020

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Nov. 12 (Yonhap) -- Toronto Blue Jays' South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin has finished third for the top pitching prize in the American League (AL) this year.

Ryu came in behind the winner, Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Indians, and the runner-up, Kenta Maeda of the Minnesota Twins, for the AL Cy Young Award. Results of the voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) were announced Wednesday (U.S. local time).

Ryu went 5-2 in 12 starts and ranked fourth in the AL with a 2.69 ERA in his first season with the Blue Jays.

While pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers last year, Ryu finished second to Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets for the National League (NL) Cy Young Award. Ryu was the first South Korean pitcher to be nominated for the top annual pitching prize.

He's now the first South Korean pitcher to rank top three in Cy Young voting in back-to-back seasons. The last pitcher to be a Cy Young finalist in consecutive seasons in different leagues was Pedro Martinez, who won the NL prize with the Montreal Expos in 1997 and finished second in the AL for the Boston Red Sox in 1998.

In this Associated Press file photo from Sept. 30, 2020, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the bottom of the first inning in Game 2 of the American League Wild Card series at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Yonhap)

Bieber, who won the AL Triple Crown with eight wins, a 1.63 ERA and 122 strikeouts, became the first unanimous winner since Justin Verlander in 2011 for the Detroit Tigers. Bieber earned all 30 first-place votes for 210 points.

Maeda collected 18 second-place votes and four third-place votes for 92 points. A former teammate of Ryu's with the Dodgers, Maeda was 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA and had 80 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings in his first season for the Twins

Ryu received four second-place votes and seven third-place votes for 51 points. He beat Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees by one point.

In this Associated Press file photo from Sept. 24, 2020, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the New York Yankees in the top of the first inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York. (Yonhap)

As a free agent, Ryu signed a four-year, US$80 million deal with the Blue Jays in December to become the highest-paid pitcher in franchise history.

In the truncated, 60-game regular season, Ryu lived up to his big contract as the top-of-the-rotation force that the upstart Blue Jays desperately needed. He shook off a shaky early stretch to emerge as one of AL's best starters. He submitted his best start of the season on Sept. 24, firing seven shutout innings in a 4-1 victory over the New York Yankees that sent the Blue Jays to their first postseason since 2016.

Ryu recorded 72 strikeouts in 67 innings, and his 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings ratio matched his career high.

The postseason didn't go the way the Blue Jays had hoped, as they got swept in two straight games by the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Wild Card Series. Ryu took the loss in the deciding Game 2, when he was roughed up for seven runs -- only three earned -- on eight hits in 1 2/3 innings.

Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays speaks at a press conference at the headquarters of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Seoul on Nov. 3, 2020. Ryu is an honorary ambassador for athletes' human rights for the NHRC. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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