RYU, Kikuchi-Manoa trust restored ‘lightning fast’…what if fall baseball was played now?

An indirect indication of how quickly the Toronto Blue Jays’ staff’s confidence in Hyun-jin Ryu was restored came on April 23 against the Baltimore Orioles.

In that game at Oriole Park, Toronto starter Yusei Kikuchi didn’t make it past the fifth inning despite pitching relatively well. In 4⅔ innings, he gave up three runs on seven hits with one walk. Some analysts believe that getting Kikuchi out of the game early was the key to Toronto’s 6-3 win in 10 innings.

Kikuchi, who had held the Jays to one run through four innings, gave up back-to-back singles to lead off the fifth to Jorge Mateo and Adley Rutchman to put runners on first and second. After getting Ryan Mountcastle to fly out to left field, Kikuchi struck out Gunnar Henderson on a wild pitch to get out of the jam, but catcher Danny Jansen’s throw to catch Rushman at first base for a double steal was misplayed, allowing Mateo to round third and score from second.

Kikuchi then walked Austin Hayes to load the bases. However, the next batter, Ima Garcia, gave up a double to left to Jordan Westberg to tie the game at 3-3 and extend Kikuchi’s run total to three.

Kikuchi, who had thrown 82 pitches, could have gone another inning, but manager John Schneider made a bold move. It was a somewhat surprising move, as Kikuchi had been one of the most reliable of Toronto’s starters in the second half.

However, the Toronto bullpen proved Schneider’s decision right, pitching five flawless innings from the sixth through the 10th inning.

“Kikuchi was on track to become the most successful starting pitcher in Blue Jays history, but he still has a lot of work to do to earn his manager’s complete trust,” wrote the Toronto Star. In other words, the manager didn’t trust him in crunch time.

Kikuchi pitched six consecutive games with one earned run or less, from July 17 against the Arizona Diamondbacks to July 16 against the Philadelphia Phillies. That was previously accomplished by two other pitchers in Toronto history, Dave Stipe in 1988-1989 and Hyun-jin Ryu in 2020. In his rookie season, Hyun-jin Ryu had a six-game streak of one earned run or less from Aug. 6, 2020, against the Atlanta Braves to Sept. 3, 2020, against the Miami Marlins.

If Kikuchi had made it through the fifth inning and finished without allowing another run, he would have set a franchise record for consecutive games with one earned run or less.

Another Toronto pitcher who can be mentioned in relation to trust is Alec Manoa. Manoa was a rookie ace who finished third in the Cy Young voting last year with 16 wins and a 2.24 ERA. But in less than a year, that trust has been shattered.

Schneider removed Alec Manoa from the major league roster the next day after he gave up four runs on four hits in four innings against the Cleveland Indians on April 11. The reason was that he could no longer trust his jagged pitches. After returning from a month-long minor league assignment on March 8, Manoa struggled to a 4.91 ERA in his next six games. It was time to cut Manoa from the six-man rotation to a five-man rotation. Manoa is currently with the big league club, trying to gauge when he will return, but there is no set deadline.

Meanwhile, Schneider’s confidence in Hyun-jin Ryu, who returned from Tommy John surgery last June, appears to be solid. Ryu took a loss against Baltimore in his comeback, giving up four runs on nine hits in five innings, but has since returned to his “Vintage Ryu” form, giving up four unearned runs in 14 innings over the next three games, all with great command and a colorful mix of pitches. 스포츠토토

Compared to Kikuchi and Manoa, Ryu’s position is becoming more solid. With his velocity and innings pitched still finding their groove, it’s hard to see him being left out of the rotation. If Toronto were to make the postseason right now, they would have to go with a four-man rotation of Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Chris Bassett, and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

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