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Blue Jays' Ryu Hyun-jin to go for 1st win of season vs. MLB-worst Reds

All News 10:15 May 19, 2022

By Yoo Jee-ho

SOEUL, May 19 (Yonhap) -- The Toronto Blue Jays' South Korean starter Ryu Hyun-jin will make his second start back from injury on the weekend against the worst team in the majors this season.

The Blue Jays have announced Ryu as their starter for the opening game of an upcoming three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds at Rogers Centre in Toronto. The first pitch is 7:07 p.m. Friday in Toronto, or 8:07 a.m. Saturday in Seoul.

This will be part of the Blue Jays' six-game homestand. They will wrap up a three-game set against the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night and then have the Thursday off before hosting the Reds.

In this Getty Images photo, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the bottom of the first inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, on May 14, 2022. (Yonhap)

The Blue Jays took the first two games against the Mariners to improve to 20-17 for the season. The Reds have the worst record in Major League Baseball (MLB) this year at 10-26.

Ryu spent about a month on the injured list (IL) with left forearm inflammation before returning to action Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays. He gave up just one run on four hits in 4 2/3 innings, while striking out three and walking one in his best outing of the 2022 season. The only damage done against Ryu in the no-decision came via a leadoff home run by Yandy Diaz in the first inning.

Ryu was lifted after making 71 pitches -- 44 of them strikes -- as the Blue Jays looked to ease him back into the grind. The 35-year-old will likely be allowed to go a bit deeper into the game this time.

Ryu lowered his ERA from 13.50 to 9.00, an illustration of just how poorly he'd pitched earlier in the year. Over his first two starts of the season, Ryu was roughed up for 11 runs on 11 hits, including two home runs, over 7 1/3 innings.

In this Getty Images photo, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the bottom of the second inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, on May 14, 2022. (Yonhap)

On April 16 against the Oakland Athletics, Ryu's last start before landing on the IL, the left-hander showed concerning dips in velocity. Numbers ticked back up against the Rays over the weekend, one of several promising signs for the veteran currently in Year 3 of a four-year, US$80 million contract.

Against the Rays, Ryu touched a season-high 92.1 mph with his four-seam fastball. He generated four whiffs on 12 swings against his changeup, for a whiff rate of his season-best 33 percent.

Sample sizes for this season are admittedly too small to draw meaningful conclusions from, but Ryu's woes date back to the second half of the 2021 season. Ryu had a 6.21 ERA in six August starts and then a 7.78 ERA in five starts in September and October.

In this USA Today Sports photo via Reuters, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the bottom of the second inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, on May 14, 2022. (Yonhap)

He struggled with fastball command in those outings. For a finesse pitcher like Ryu, who will never blow away hitters with high-velocity stuff, establishing fastball command early is always critical. It allows them to attack corners with their secondary pitches. And because Ryu doesn't throw hard, missing his spots with his fastball and leaving them out over the plate will often result in extra-base hits and at least in some hard-hit balls. The margin for error is always slim.

That margin will be perhaps a bit larger against the Reds' feeble lineup, which ranked 23rd out of 30 major league teams with a .645 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS).

Against left-handed pitchers, the Reds are dead last with a .579 OPS.

In this Getty Images photo, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays (R) reacts to a home run by Yandy Diaz of the Tampa Bay Rays during the bottom of the first inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, on May 14, 2022. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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